Japan will ask foreign tourists to wear face masks and follow other precautions against COVID-19 when they visit the country, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.
Kishida's statement came a day after he said Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in about two years, starting from June 10 for those on package tours with guides and fixed itineraries, amid receding fears over the coronavirus.
"We must have them follow Japanese rules of wearing face masks," Kishida said in a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
He said the government will ask tour operators to tell tourists from abroad to abide by the instructions, and persuade companies, schools and other entities accepting foreign citizens to do likewise.
The government has recently said wearing face masks is not always necessary outside and it recommends people to remove their mask when they are more than 2 meters from another person, given the heat and humidity of the coming months and the increased risk of heatstroke.
The tourism ministry plans to create guidelines on anti-virus measures for hotels and other industries before the resumption of inbound tourism, a key driver for Japan's economy before the pandemic's emergence.
Kishida said he will consider further easing the country's entry restrictions by thoroughly implementing the measures.
Japan will double from next Wednesday the cap on daily arrivals to 20,000. The initial impact of the relaxation on the economy may be limited as forthcoming guided tour participants will be included in the numerical ceiling.
Japan has been criticized at home and abroad for its overly strict border controls. But as concern lingers among government officials over the potential resurgence of infections, it is likely to take some time for the country to reopen its borders to individual tourists.
Under the current scheme, tourism arrivals will be initially restricted to guided tours from the "blue" list of 98 countries and regions presenting the lowest risk of infection. These include Australia, Britain, China, Thailand, South Korea and the United States.