In a bid to address the challenges posed by overtourism, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Saturday that his government is gearing up to develop comprehensive strategies, slated for release as early as this autumn. The goal is to counteract the adverse effects of excessive tourism, which can disrupt the daily lives of local residents.
With Japan gradually recovering from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the influx of foreign visitors has started to regain momentum. However, this resurgence brings to the forefront the concerns associated with the concentration of tourists, an issue that the government deems crucial to tackle. Prime Minister Kishida shared his insights with journalists during a press conference in Naha.
The surge in foreign visitors has been accompanied by an escalation in worries about overcrowding within public transportation systems. The mounting problems of waste management and noise pollution further compound the challenges, underscoring the need for proactive measures as the number of tourists continues to climb.
On August 10, China took a significant step by lifting its imposed ban on group tours to Japan. This restriction had been enforced in response to the pandemic. The decision from Beijing marks a pivotal moment in Japan’s tourism landscape.
Simultaneously, Prime Minister Kishida introduced a noteworthy initiative involving the issuance of commemorative coins. This project is aligned with the upcoming 100th anniversary, slated for 2031, commemorating the establishment of Japan’s system to designate and oversee national parks. Kishida articulated his vision, stating, “Our aim is to release the initial collection of commemorative coins, showcasing the beauty of Okinawa’s three national parks, by the next summer.”
Earlier in the day, Kishida embarked on a visit to the renowned Shuri Castle in Naha. The castle is undergoing an ambitious reconstruction effort following its tragic destruction in a fire that ravaged it in 2019. During his visit, the prime minister engaged in meaningful discussions with representatives from the local tourism industry.
Expressing optimism about the reconstruction process, Kishida conveyed his sentiments after receiving comprehensive briefings from officials of the Cabinet Office and key individuals involved in the restoration endeavor.
As part of his itinerary, the prime minister toured a dedicated area that allows visitors to witness the ongoing reconstruction progress. This area was opened to the public on Saturday afternoon, providing insights into the meticulous work being undertaken. Kishida also explored various other sections of the site.
The reconstruction of the Seiden main hall, a central component of the castle’s architecture, is on track for completion in the autumn of 2026. The government’s efforts are poised to not only restore the historical landmark but also transform the process into a valuable resource for tourism.
Collaboration between the central government and the Okinawa regional administration is anticipated as they seek to leverage the reconstruction project to enhance the tourism experience for visitors. This innovative approach aims to fuse historical preservation with contemporary travel, offering a holistic and enriching journey for those exploring Japan’s cultural heritage.