Remember the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan earlier in March this year? Because of that the number of foreign tourists has dropped by over 35%. The Japanese Government is now trying to conivnce them that their country in now “Open for Business” and that the country is safe for travel. There have been serious discounts being offered at this time by most hotels but few have yet to take them up on their offers.

Excerpts from an interiew with Shigeki Takizaki, the minister for public affairs for the Embassy of Japan:

How has the disaster affected tourism?

Visitors have been declining dramatically. It is very serious now, and the Japanese government is committed to a kind of campaign in which we’re insisting that Japan is open for business and travel. In autumn, the season in Japan is the best. Most of Japan is quite safe, and even surrounding areas, except for 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) around nuclear facilities, are now safe. We’d like as many foreigners as possible to go to Tohoku (the region where Fukushima is located). It has a lot of nice scenery and hot springs and people are very kind.

Are there any specific precautions that travelers should take if they visit Japan?

The Japanese government asks people not to enter a 20 kilometer (12.4 mile) zone [around nuclear facilities]. The American government issues a different warning. The U.S. government asks citizens not to enter a 50-mile zone.

How should travelers reconcile those two differing warnings?

Most areas that are attractive to foreigners are quite far away [from these zones]. If any person is very concerned with the situation, they can check with the Japanese government.

Every government has a responsibility to its citizens. The U.S. stance is understandable. The Japanese government warning is based on scientific figures and research, while the U.S. government warning is based on their data and research.