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Posted on 24th May, 2020 in Uncategorised

Photo I took of airplanes waiting at Tokyo Haneda International Airport.

NEW YORK — It is May 2020 and the world has been a pandemic-induced lockdown for months. While people are dreaming of finally getting out of the house, governments are feeling the economic pressure to reopen for tourism. So it came as no surprise when an article claiming Japan had set aside 1.35 trillion yen to subsidize its tourism industry by covering half the cost of travel expenses for visitors (similar to Sicily) went viral. Unfortunately, that article was wrong. Let's dive in!

All of the viral travel blog articles on the topic of the Japanese subsidy cite either an article in The Japan Times or an article in the Mainichi, two major English-language Japanese news outlets. So naturally, I dug those articles up and found that they're actually the same article republished from Kyodo News, a news agency which sells its reporting to other outlets like the Associated Press does.

The article in question is about how foreign tourism has dropped a 99.9% in Japan amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the 6th paragraph, there was some ambiguous phrasing about a 1.35 trillion yen program that could start as early as July 2020 to boost tourism. The original phrasing reads as follows and made it in to the Mainichi version of the article.

"The government is planning to lure back foreign visitors by covering half of their travel expenses."

However, The Japan Times article, which was published a day later, has different phrasing indicating that the government's plan is to boost domestic tourism. How come? It turns out that Kyodo "updated [the story] to clarify information in the 6th paragraph" and the Mainichi article didn't pick up on that, creating wild speculation among travel bloggers. Here is the current verbiage being used.

"The government is seeking to boost domestic tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control."

So there you have it. I'm sorry everyone but there won't be any half-priced plane tickets to Japan. The government is only looking to subsidize domestic travel for now.

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