From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears


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Hi Blog. In one of the more hare-brained schemes I’ve seen devised to stimulate Japan’s economy (it ranks among the bigger boondoggles spun together when you give a political elite too much power over public money, including the LDP’s public bribe/tax kickback coupon campaigns in 1999 and 2008, PM Obuchi’s creation of the 2000 yen note, and the many, many construction projects that take a generation or so to complete, examples here and here), we have the Tourism Agency bribing, excuse me, offering to pay the round-trip airfares of 10,000 NJ tourists to visit Japan — as long as they do a homework assignment presumably saying how nice a time they had here, and that the world should stop worrying and love Japan’s increasingly irradiated food chain.

It takes about ten seconds before the obvious begins to sink in:  Shouldn’t this money be going instead towards helping Japanese who are suffering from these disasters?

Naw, that would be too selfish — (SARCASM ALERT!:) the whole country is suffering due to Fukushima, so everyone worldwide should realize that the troubles are confined to that one area and just come here and stay away from there.

Yeah, that’ll fix things!  Hope they don’t get turned away from too many xenophobic Japanese hotels (the costs of which are not covered under the bribe, of course), or if they do, they have the ‘nads to mention to the GOJ in their homework that inviting them over here, without protecting their rights as consumers and humans, puts a damper on the feelings of hospitality.  But I digress.  Arudou Debito


Japan offers 10,000 free trips to foreigners to boost tourism after earthquake

AFP, October 10, 2011 4:10PM, courtesy GJ and

The Japan Tourism Agency plans to ask would-be travellers to submit online applications for the free flights, detailing which areas of the country they would like to visit, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

The agency will select the successful entrants and ask them to write a report about their trip which will be published on the internet.

Tourism authorities hope that positive reports from travellers about their experiences in Japan will help ease international worries about visiting the country, the newspaper said.

The programme, which will require travellers to cover other costs such as accommodation, is expected to start from next April, subject to government budgetary approval.

The number of foreign tourists to Japan fell more than 50 per cent year-on-year during the three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The sharp drop began to ease somewhat in the summer. In June and July, tourist figures were down 36 per cent from a year ago, easing to 32 per cent in August as the country worked to reassure foreign tourism markets.

The government has said Japan is safe except for the immediate vicinity of the crippled plant, where work crews are still trying to bring the facility to a cold shutdown.



10,000 Free Round-Trip Tickets to Japan

By Akiko Fujita | ABC News Blogs – October 12m 2011, 

Courtesy DR and

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan, this may be your chance.

In a desperate attempt to lure tourists back to a country plagued by radiation fears and constant earthquakes, the Japan Tourism Agency‘s proposed an unprecedented campaign – 10,000 free roundtrip tickets.

The catch is, you need to publicize your trip on blogs and social media sites.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan has dropped drastically, since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power plant in March. Nearly 20,000 people have been confirmed dead, while more than 80,000 remain displaced because of radiation concerns. In the first three months following the triple disasters, the number of foreign visitors to Japan was cut in half, compared with the same time in 2010. The strong Japanese currency has made matters worse.

The tourism agency says it plans to open a website to solicit applicants interested in the free tickets. Would- be visitors will have to detail in writing their travel plans in Japan, and explain what they hope to get out of the trip. Successful applicants would pay for their own accommodation and meals. They would also be required to write a review their travel experiences, and post it online.

“We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, with the agency.

The agency has requested more than a billion yen to pay for the tourism blitz. If lawmakers approve the funding, Sato says visitors could begin signing up as early as next April.



Tourism blitz: 10,000 to get free flights to Japan

The Japan Times, Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staff writer

The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets to the country in the next fiscal year as part of a campaign to reverse the plunge in tourists since the March 11 disasters and amid a prohibitively high yen.

The agency said it will open a website to solicit applicants. They will be required to answer questions on postquake tourism in Japan and what their travel goals are in the country.

The successful applicants will receive return air tickets but will have to pay for their accommodations and other expenses, said Shuichi Kameyama, head of the agency’s international tourism promotion division.

The agency has requested ¥1.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to cover the campaign, he said.

During or after their visits, the agency will ask the recipients to post on blogs or other online social media about their stay in Japan, hoping positive feedback will lure more visitors.

Officials said fear of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and the soaring yen are discouraging foreigners from visiting and it may take years before international tourism rebounds to the prequake level, let alone achieves the agency’s goal of drawing 30 million foreign travelers a year. Officials agree that promoting tourism is vital for Japan to help offset domestic demand and to revitalize regional economies.

“First and foremost, we will need to show (the world) that Japan is a good place to visit,” Kameyama said.



Japan offers free return flights to revive tourism after Fukishima disaster

10,000 tickets on offer in attempt to bolster industry hit hard by March earthquake and tsunami, which killed up to 20,000

By  in Tokyo,
Seven months after much of its north-east coast was destroyed by a tsunami, Japan is attempting to revive tourism by offering free return flights to 10,000 foreign visitors.

Japan’s tourism agency said the programme, which will begin in April, is expected to cost more than 1bn yen (£10m), equivalent to about 10% of its budget request for next year.

Applicants will be asked to outline their travel plans and answer questions about post-disaster tourism in Japan, recently named favourite long-haul country by readers of the Guardian and Observer in the newspapers’ annual travel awards. Tokyo won favourite city for the second year in a row.

The successful applicants will receive free return air tickets, but must pay for their accommodation and other expenses.

Tourism to Japan dropped dramatically after the 11 March disaster, which left almost 20,000 people dead or missing and triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country’s history.

In April, international visitor numbers stood at 296,000, according to theJapan national tourism agency (JNTO), down 63% on 2010; by August they had recovered to 547,000, down 32% on last year.

“The Asian market has been showing the fastest recovery, with visitors to Japan from south-east Asia having already bounced back into positive growth by month on 2010,” said Mamoru Kobori, the JNTO’s executive director of marketing and promotion. “Within Europe, the UK is leading the way in picking up the number of visitors to Japan.”

Kobori said the agency had already invited more than 1,000 journalists and travel industry executives in an attempt to reassure the world Japan is a safe destination.

“[We want them] not to just take our word for it, but to come and see for themselves how the Japan of today offers as memorable and diverse a travel experience as ever,” he said.

The agency hopes the programme will boost spending, particularly in regional economies: spending by visitors dropped by 47% in the three months after the disaster compared with last year.

Tourism officials concede many international visitors are still deterred by the continuing Fukushima nuclear crisis and the yen’s rise to a record high against the dollar. Before the disaster, officials had set a target of attracting 30 million foreign visitors a year, a goal that appears well out of reach, at least for the next few years.

If its budget request is approved in March, the agency will start accepting online applications the following month, and select the candidates by early summer.


26 comments on “From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears

  • I would welcome an opportunity for relatives to visit Japan free of charge.

    I am sure that they would happily post nice things about their visit on multiple blogs.

    I do not know the costs involved, but if Y1.1 billion will result in 10 000 visitors, that means that each visitor will cost Y110 000 for a roundtrip flight.

    I would even be pleased to pay that amount for a roundtrip ticket for a relative, sinvce their latest trip cost more per person for airfare.

  • Turkish guy says:

    Well, I must admit that I agree that amount of money would be more useful if used for the recovery efforts inside…but being from a country where return airfare costs to Japan are more than 700 Euros (955 USD or 73000 Yen) and the salary is 1300 Turkish Lira (515 Euro, 700 USD, 55000 Yen) this is an opportunity to jump on immediately. I can see places I haven’t seen, I can meet old friends from my exchange student years, I can buy CD’s, DVD’s and books…if I can make it.

    Well, the thing about the radiation, I have no fear. Because I had my share of radiation when I was a kid. Soon after Chernobyl, there was a huge Cesium-131 cloud over whole Turkey for a week. Fukushima can’t knock me out!

    And about the hotel thing, I’m working at a travel agency, besides I have a good network of J & NJ friends in there, they won’t let me down.

    — So you’ve got yours, good for you; I’m pleased that this scheme benefits you so well. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love a free plane ticket. Under these circumstances, however, I think this attitude is pretty crass.

    Here’s a suggestion: Think beyond yourself and more about people for whom life is a struggle due to a natural disaster, and for whom these tax monies could be better spent.

  • I don`t understand how the government has the right to spend its taxpayers` dollars on this sort of thing. What are people doing these days? Are they totally unaware of their surroundings? Sorry folks, tax money shouldn`t be used for this type of thing. Another distraction for individuals to get wrapped around and avoid dealing with real issues.

  • Turkish guy says:

    I looked over what I wrote once again, I was too carried away upon hearing the news today…sorry for the selfish remarks. I like Japan very much and am really craving for years to go back again and that news was pure dream for me. Of course, if I can make it.

    This reminds me of the Greencard Lottery this year. Due to some computer error the lottery was voided and drawn once again, and people were waiting for their second chances…without thinking much about the applicants who were said that they won before and then rejected. It’s in our nature…perhaps.

    I had more to say about that on the first post I had, but kinda overlooked it-perhaps thinking it was irrelevant. The thing is, I was thinking about going to volunteering for the quake area this year on my work holiday, but I couldn’t afford the plane. I don’t think that there’ll be any work left until next year, so I missed that chance…but I still can contribute with spending some in there, can’t I?

  • @Colin who said:

    “I don`t understand how the government has the right to spend its taxpayers` dollars on this sort of thing.”

    Colin, Japan is not a democracy and hence, the citizens have almost NO say whatsoever about what their “elected” officials spend or don’t spend money on.

    here is a link to UMJ which is a bit dated but still has some interesting reading about exactly WHY Japan is in fact, NOT a true democracy.

    Also, I wonder what sort of control system/failsafe JTA will implement to make sure that people aren’t writing shite reviews of their trip? It would be awesome to know someone who does actually “win” one and find out if they are made to sign waivers promising nothing but glowing reviews.

    Simple law of probability will ENSURE that some people will no doubt have a less than stellar experience no? If even a handful of people come away with a bad taste in their mouths or stories of discrimination, those stories could potentially negate all the good ones no? Because really, what is the message then?

    “Most people who visit Japan will have a wonderful time but from time to time there ARE those who feel excluded and discriminated against”

    not really an enticing way to bring people over aye?

    Seems like a VERY risky move that really needs way more control to make absolutely sure that none of these visitors gets harassed by cops or turned away at a shop or whatever. More trouble than it is worth and also, yeah imagine how you would feel as a victim of the tsunami/earthquake to read about this in the paper….


  • I actually agree with you on this, Debito.
    Money should be put back into the communities affected most by the disasters in March. This is wrong and that money could do a lot of good someplace else.

    I did hear that a occupy wall street-style protest is coming to Japan soon. And this would be the perfect time to show displeasure towards such ridiculous spending of taxes. Help the locals who are still suffering!!!

  • Crustpunker,

    Well…I would have to that no country is a democracy then. Governments are wasting taxpayers contributions all over the world. Including the so called democracies.

    — Please discuss Crustpunker’s comment in conjunction with the points raised in the UMJ link, as they are the contentions being raised that make Japan less of a democracy. This digression is okay for a comment or two back and forth.

  • As tourism has never been a major earner for Japan, and by this summer was ” easing to 32 per cent in August as the country worked to reassure foreign tourism markets” , this whole campaign smacks of a gimmick and a face saving gesture. Or a chance for 10, 000 potential ambassadors to see Japan`s “unique” culture and stoicism in the face of natural disasters (denial more like, but I digress).

    And how Japan is seen by the rest of the world is one big concern of the GOJ, because this affects other issues- mostly business or economic, or trade (exporting Japanese food and beverages)- with just example being getting that permanent seat on the UN security council.

    Kowaiso Japan may have inched a bit further to that through a future sympathy vote.

    — Ooh, I like that. “Kawaisou Japan”. Please let me appropriate that for this blog title.

  • Whatever one thinks about the safety of Japan, I think we can all agree that the natural and nuclear disasters in this year have hit tourism hard. And re-establishing tourism has to be part of Japan’s recovery. As well as the massive continuing hit on the Japanese economy, businesses hundreds of miles from the disaster area are suffering due to the fall off in tourism. Whilst of course the government needs to spend large sums on immediate disaster recovery, rebuilding, compensation for long term recovery Japan needs to also rebuild its industries – this includes tourism. It sounds nice in theory to simply give this money to victims and directly affected communities, but that isn’t the long term solution to rebuilding a sustainable country.

    Although, the details of this scheme are so far scant, it seems like it could be a really clever idea if well implemented. I doubt the tourist agency are going to pay full rate airfares – they will have a bulk agreement with the airlines to try to fill those seats that have been flying empty since March. Most likely, most of this money will go directly to Japanese airlines. Many governments subsidise their airlines in troubled times anyway and this method would certainly skirt any anti-competition rules and boost this essential industry. Also, as only flights are covered, it is likely that the visiting freeloaders will spend at least as much, if not substantially more, on accommodation, food, and attractions in Japan. Bringing much needed money into Japan at a time when the Yen is sky-high, so some of this money spend on flights will come back as taxes and at the same time helping to safeguard jobs in the tourist industry. Thus, in a way, this money will put money directly back in the pockets of those in the tourist sector that have been affected by this year’s disasters. Of course 10,000 tourists is a small number compared with the post-March reduction. But the advertising generated by this competition and subsequent writing about their experiences may produce massive promotion for Japan. Indeed, compared with worldwide mass TV advertising campaigns by other Asian countries, ¥1.1 billion is pretty cheap for the exposure Japan might gain from this campaign. Does anyone know how this compares to the usual annual budget for promoting Japan overseas? If you believe that restoring tourism is important the recovery of Japan, this scheme could work and really help long-term. I guess its success will depend on the selection criteria for these visitors, who will effectively become ambassadors for Japanese tourism, but it is already putting positive stories about visiting Japan back on the front pages.

    — Possibly. I just don’t see how this will help Fukushima. Instead, I still see it is helping everyone else DESPITE Fukushima — on the back of six months of deception, dishonesty, and bad faith about Fukushima and Japan’s nuclear power industry. Thus, this policy seems to be saying, if you can’t help the victims properly, cut your losses and localize the victims, apparently minimizing the damage without solving the problem.

    Thanks for making the positive case about this policy (and no, I’m not being sarcastic). I wish I could be convinced to be positive about it. But I can’t help but see this as a huge diversion, if not a whitewash of enormous human suffering. Japan is a developed nation with a very effective welfare system. But it severely failed this time, and this policy is just PR benefiting the people who need help less.

  • Crustpunker,

    What is Japan? a democracy, socialist, communist? Do you know?

    I`ve never heard of “Its a less of a democracy” country. People have the power they just don`t show it. Hence, the government will spend your tax money anyway they want. Which is why they`ll waste this money on nonsense.

  • I don’t think this will help Fukushima or other tsunami-affected regions. Of course I agree that rebuilding, compensation, and investment in these areas should be a priority. But that’s no reason not to instigate policies that benefit “people who need help less” at this time. They are not mutually exclusive. Hopefully, this stimulus will put money indirectly into businesses that have suffered since March, though it’s hard to imagine airline executives, train bosses or travel agents as needy people.

    I have no idea of how much the tourism industry has lost or how many jobs are directly involved in foreign tourists, but “Flyjin” makes the point that promoting Japan abroad is important to a whole host of other areas. If Japan is seen to be open and people are visiting, maybe food exports will improve (even that ultra-tested, very safe Fukushima prefecture produce). This positive world view of Japan is key for other links. For example (slightly OT, but bear with me), as a scientist, I’ve been really impressed in Japan with the quality of international visits that are attracted to present at meetings here. Tiny closed conferences with stellar guest lists were commonplace – something unheard of in similar sized countries. It turns out that this was due to government grants directly funding the travel of leading academics and Japan certainly knows how to host them in style. Whilst the ethics of bribing people over for a visit with a first-class travel package at the tax-payers expense can be argue – this has made large differences in my field. The link up with leading collaborators as well as simply allowing Japanese researchers to become internationally “known” has really allowed Japan scientifically to punch above its weight. Since the earthquake, these meetings haven’t been happening. Lots of these mini-conferences were cancelled as the speakers withdraw over safety fears, those that went ahead without the foreign speakers were really lacking anything groundbreaking. I’m sure similar situations existed in other science fields and also in business – Japan’s soft power in play as an attractive destination for a visitor most likely meant business deals were set up that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. Although, Japan doesn’t want to admit it, Japan needs the outside world. So maybe this scheme will work in promoting Japan.

    There has been a recent trend in creatives using novel methods for advertising (like the caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef islands “job”). This sort of uncontrolled publicity has it dangers – it would only take one newspaper to spin this competition as – Japan is so dangerous, they have to pay for people to visit! – for any benefit to be wiped out. They are certainly taking a risk on this, but I guess Japan can’t afford to spend the kind of money traditional campaigns require.Still, at least they aren’t spending large sums on new logos or Olympic bids at the moment.

    @ Kimpatsu, I’m sure you’re being facetious as I’m sure you know that the 10,000 will be treated like any other tourist. Also – the fingerprinting thing can be called many things: pointless, waste of time and money, annoying, security theatre –but racism it ain’t. People are not fingerprinted based on their race, but on their visa status. Personally, I think it would actually be useful if every was fingerprinted on arrival, including Japanese citizens and special permanent residents, or even better if only US passport holders were fingerprinted until they get rid of their equally stupid rules (and entering the US is much more unpleasant than the Japanese implementation). I would hope that no tourist’s opinion of their visit to Japan is governed by the entry procedures. Certainly, no one has mentioned it to me, whereas the US procedures seem to rankle others and me for several weeks after trips stateside.

  • I’m not sure how this could really be considered a diversion. You can see for yourself that visitors to Japan are down across the board by as much as 40%:

    In 2009, Japan saw revenues of 236.4 billion yen from tourists. Considering the drop in tourists, that’s a tremendous cut to the budget of a government already struggling to pay for recovery efforts, and simply put, right now the government has no money to help Fukushima at all.

    We’re already looking at higher taxes, and our electricity bills are going to cost a fortune in the near future. Not to mention that just last night, they were explaining how the age for retirement could possibly be pushed back to an age around 70 by the year 2026 to cut social security costs.


    I just really don’t see how this could be spun in any sort of negative light. 10,000 tickets at US$1000 per ticket is practically nothing on a larger scale. But Nogbad is right – 10,000 visitors writing about their trips to Japan online could serve as a great way to increase publicity and hopefully bring back some of the big spenders. And the proof is in the details: already I’ve seen this news on sites such as Consumerist, ABC, Yahoo, etc., which is much more publicity than I’ve seen for Japan in a long, long time.

  • Will these free trips to Japan also include cancer insurance covering a 30 year period after their trip? It is beyond irresponsible for the Japanese government to be luring people to Japan. They cannot guarantee the safety of those visiting. Will they check the safety of the air, water and food of those visiting? I did not think so.

  • “localize the victims”- as they are disturbing the harmony of “Safety Japan”, one of the oldest cliches trotted out to non Japanese, but a cliche absolutely destroyed since March 11th.

    A friend once said to me “The (traditional, stereotypical GOJ) Japanese has an odd mix of (nihonjinron)pride and insecurity.”

    Insecurity in how the outside (“soto”) world perceives Japan. Tatemae or a PR campaign like this one will solve this. “Japan is safe”.

    Pride is pride in what makes us Japanese, the “uchi” and the honne, which is that nothing can or will be done to disturb or change that. And Pride, or Pride in Suffering/”gaman” is what defines us as “Good” Japanese.

  • I don’t really see what all the negativity is about. “I just don’t see how this will help Fukushima” etc. If I understood correctly, this is a campaign suggested by the Japan Tourism Agency. I’m not surprised that the Japan Tourism Agency is focusing on, you know, *promoting tourism* as opposed to “helping Fukushima”. Sounds to me like the Tourism Agency is doing it’s job of coming up with suggestions how to promote tourism…

    The suggested campaign is dependent on budget being granted from the government. Can’t you at least hold off on the complaining until/if budget gets approved? Then at least you can say “look at the stupid government, spending taxpayer’s yen on tourism instead of helping Fukushima”. Now you’re essentially saying “look at the stupid Tourism Agency, wanting taxpayer’s yen to promote tourism”.

  • Yeah, there’s nothing that says desperation more than having to pay people to come and visit your country…

    It’s like the foreign students thing all over again (the Japanese government thinks attracting foreign students will save their tertiary education system, so instead of making world-class universities that are open and accessible, they just bribe people to come and study here…).

    Here are my tips to the Japanese government in order to fix their tourist industry:

    1. fix the unsafe nuclear facilities
    2. stop lying about stuff
    3. wait a few years

    In the absence of (1) and/or (2), (3) is not going to work

  • I would love a free ticket to Japan. Can I go to Okinawa, as far away as I can get from Fukushima? Or rather, would they let me bring my trusty Geiger counter with me and do a blog about the readings I get? I could even take samples of everything I eat over there and bring it back to my lab and test it. I traveled to Japan for the first time in May, in spite of the disaster (I wonder if I could wrangle a reimbursement for my airline tickets.) All sarcasm aside, I wonder how they intend to “enforce” the opinion blogs/homework assigned to the tourists? Sure, they could find a bunch of unwashed [newbies] who would gladly accept any sort of racial treatment to go to magical fun anime land. But it’s highly unlikely that 10,000 people are all going to have a 100% positive experience. Will they be allowed to tell the truth? Will they have to pay the money back if they put a negative blog out about it? What language will the reports be in? Will it be translated to Japanese and have any negative feedback glossed over or ‘mistranslated’?

  • “It’s like the foreign students thing all over again (the Japanese government thinks attracting foreign students will save their tertiary education system, so instead of making world-class universities that are open and accessible, they just bribe people to come and study here…).”

    Because this is the insecurity/tatemae vs. pride/honne paradigm again. The policy makers think its easier to fix the PR rather than enact any meaningful change and disturb the harmony of the status quo. Of course.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    10,000 people can have a free trip to Japan. They have to write a report about Japan afterwards. I am guessing that any reports straying away from the ‘Japan is a peaceful country with a unique culture’ narrative will never see the light of day. Perhaps winners of a free ticket should be encouraged to send a copy of their report to Debito if they have included any ‘alternative narrative’ elements (racism, discrimination, coercion regarding report). I would love to see the guidelines for writing the reports, and just how the Jgov plans to disseminate the resulting propaganda.

  • @Colin-

    Well, on paper Japan is a Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.

    As you say,” People have the power they just don`t show it.”

    Maybe you mean, “People DON’T have the power and even if they did they wouldn’t EXERCISE it”

    In the link I provided to UMJ, one thing that stands out to me is

    “In Japan there are hardly any public hearings. Those that do occur, do so only in form. Moreover, the speakers are predetermined, and advance “adjustments” are carried out to make sure the number of speakers in favor is equal to the number against. Speaking times are strictly limited. But in the U.S.–for example in the case of the CPUC–there are no limitations on the number of speakers, nor the length of speaking time. Those who have something to say come up one after another to make their point. You may think that this would allow things to get out of hand, but if there are that many opportunities for participating, the effect is to the contrary; citizens are less prone to making lengthy speeches out of spite.”

    as well as:

    “The very notion of public participation in the procedure for enacting ordinances and statutes is probably unknown in Japan. Here there isn’t even sufficient public participation in the normal legislative process, and the implementation of the law, in the form of ordinances, ministerial ordinances, and the like, is carried out entirely by civil servants, who pass it on to the public in the form of officialese set in stone.”

    so there you have it. The people have little to no power and when they do strive to organize they are ignored or label as fringe wack jobs for the most part. Case in point, remember the demo that was held recently calling for an end to nuclear power in Tokyo? It was ignored at the time and is largely forgotten.

    Anyway, the point is, if the Jgov decides something is going to happen, you can be certain that it will. Read Alex Kerr’s Dogs and Demons for more on that. Generally, I think people here feel it is futile to protest against the gov. and are resigned to putting up with whatever crap ideas are spat out by the machine.

    unfortunate indeed.

  • Getting 10,000 foreign tourists to come at $1000 each is a great investment — it gets their money circulating in the domestic economy and would generate lots of PR via social media. And people, keep in mind, the idea is for 10,000 visitors to come for temporary stays. Latest US State Dept. advisory ( is to avoid all areas within 20km of Fukushima No. 1 plant. “The U.S. government believes the health and safety risks to temporary visitors to [20km~80km radius] are low and exposure does not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens making visits of less than one year.”
    I wish Dr. H and other ‘bring geiger counter’ commenters would keep things in perspective regarding short term visitors and long-term residents.

  • If this did raise tourism overall (which it won’t) then maybe spending a billion yen might not be a bad thing.

    But the real problem IMO all goes back to the way the government handles reconstruction in general. Preference is given to local and favored contractors to make housing for victims of disasters and other necessary repairs and rebuilding.

    Rebuilding is a huge pot of cash, and the shady businesses involved all want a piece. This 1 billion yen if sent to rebuilding efforts might help some, but a much bigger help would be to allow the people who offered to make temporary shelters for free to actually do that, rather than turn them away. And then find a way to fix the bidding system so new hands and volunteer groups could make more of a difference.

  • On October 14th, the JTO posted the following news update:

    Thank you for your interest in visiting Japan.

    Recently a number of media outlets have publicized reports about ”Japan offering 10,000 free flights to foreigners”.  However, this initiative to be carried out from April 2012 onwards is still under examination for government budgetary approval and is at this moment undecided.

    If the initiative is confirmed and put into operation, Japan Tourism Agency will officially announce details on this website.

    Warning: There have been reports in some countries about acts of fraud related to this media report. The Japanese government has not committed to provide free flight tickets to Japan to anybody. Please be careful not to get caught up in this kind of fraud.


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