Foreign Policy Blogs

10,000 foreigners to get free trip to Japan

10,000 foreigners to get free trip to Japan

Graphic from Japan Tourism Agency English Web site (

The Japan Tourism Agency plans to offer free airfare to and from Japan to 10,000 foreigners in order to boost the tourism industry. Tourism dropped 50 percent in the months following the March 11 quake and tsunami, due largely to fears of radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The tourism agency, part of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, plans to offer online application forms in which prospective travelers outline which areas of the country they plan to visit. Travelers will be encouraged to write positive reviews of their trips to alleviate concerns other tourists may have about visiting the country.

The program is still pending budgetary approval, but the free trips are expected to begin in April.

The massive number of free trips could also positively affect Japan’s foreign policy. I mentioned in my first post that Japan wields a disproportionate amount of influence overseas, thanks largely to its cultural exports, which give the country soft power. This massive amount of soft power was driven home for me the other week when I attended the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival. The festival has grown by several degrees in terms of both size and attendance since I first went there seven years ago. The number of young Japanophiles wearing Pokemon “cosplay” was especially striking.

With 10,000 foreigners returning home with positive memories of Japan, thanks largely to receiving free airfare, Japan could buy even more soft power.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]