Japanese travel restrictions lifted as airline launches new route for overseas visitors
JAPAN AIRLINES (Reuters) – Japanese airlines have begun rolling out new routes to allow travel from overseas to Japan’s major cities, with the aim of boosting tourism and reducing the impact of the country’s nuclear disaster.
The world’s third-largest economy has reopened several airports after being shut down for three days following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
But while the nation has reopened the air traffic control centers at airports around the country, it has been limited to the most densely populated areas of Tokyo and Osaka, with Tokyo only allowing flights to and from the capital and Osaka only allowing air travel to the central city of Nagoya.
Tokyo and Osaka were the main sites of the Fukushima disaster and the nuclear accident that killed more than 30,000 people, including many workers and tourists.
The move to reopen the air hubs follows months of public criticism of Tokyo’s decision to close the main airport in Tokyo, known as Kanagawa Airport, while it was still recovering from the disaster.
Tokya has since reopened.
The government is expected to decide later this month whether to reopen some of the airports, including Kanagada Airport.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would use his new power as premier to reopen Kanagadai Airport, the countrys biggest, by the end of March, and allow travel to Kanagaderas other terminals, including Tokyo’s Shinjuku.
The government is also expected to choose to open the airports to international flights by the beginning of next month, he said.
Japan has suffered the biggest loss of life and property in the nuclear disaster, which led to the world’s worst air travel disaster since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Japan is in the midst of a sweeping clean-up of the disaster, with more than 200,000 buildings and thousands of miles of damaged infrastructure to be cleared and replaced.
The latest measures have already resulted in cancellations of flights and delays to travel.
Japanese authorities have ordered a blanket ban on public gatherings on public holidays and state-owned companies have cancelled their stock trading and travel plans in the wake of the nuclear crisis.
The Japan Airlines (JAL) airline said it had set up a new route to Tokyo and will allow travel on two of the most crowded terminals, Osaka and Tokyo.
The Tokyo-Osaka route will run from April 1 and run from March 24, the airline said in a statement.
Japan Airlines said it was opening a new Tokyo-Kansai flight between Tokyo and Kanagayas major airports to allow the country to continue its “long-term plan” to expand its domestic and international service to the two cities.
“We are in the process of opening a second Tokyo-Jakubetsu flight between March 24 and April 1 to allow Japan to continue our long-term plans to expand our domestic and global service to Osaka,” the airline’s head of public relations, Yukio Kato, told a news conference.