Japan on Friday reopened its international borders for tourists after a two-year closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local media said.
The government resumed issuing tourist visas for 98 countries and regions, including the US, Britain, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand for guided tours, Kyodo News Agency reported.
Authorities are planning to resume full-scale arrivals of tourists from around the world by the end of this month.
"We will make efforts to restore tourism demand by balancing anti-virus measures, and social and economic activities," the agency quoted Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito telling a press conference, adding that the first group of tourists is expected to arrive next week at the earliest.
Japan gradually eased COVID-19 restrictions for international travelers this March, when it opened its borders for businessmen, students, and Japanese citizens.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in China in late 2019 but reached most countries early the next year, Japan had set a target of 40 million foreign visitors for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were later postponed until 2021.