Published on April 20th,2011 at 9:20 AM
By >Ike

Are Japan aid programs really helping Japan?

By now, most of you know about the Japanese Red Cross, which is putting it’s heart and soul to help people whose homes and possessions were destroyed by the tsunami’s destructive force. It’s logical after large-scale natural disasters to summon the help of various aid organizations all over the world, most notably in this case is the Japanese Red Cross. Even though the people are grateful with your gifts and other forms of aid, there are other problems going on in the rest of the country.

Due to the mass media touting the help and rescue for the victims of the Sendai, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures, the country’s tourism business is in a sharp decline. Many tourists view Japan as a construction site, affected by large quantities of nuclear fallout polluting the air and water. This is far from the truth.

Businesses that rely on Japanese tourism are in trouble, and are scrambling to prevent mass cancellations. From Okinawa to Hokkaido, the entire country is taking a beating when it comes to the number of foreign visitors. Nationally, we are talking about at least 50% fewer visitors as compared to the same period last year.

Some examples from the Yomiuri Shimbun survey:

  • At least 80,000 tourists called off visiting Japan, canceling their hotel bookings.
  • The normally tourist-packed Nakamise street leading to the Sensoji temple in Tokyo is almost deserted, with some stores now selling rice and vegetables to raise money.
  • At the popular Noboribetsu hot spring in Hokkaido, which normally serves 200,000 tourists a year, over 10% canceled their reservations.
  • The number of non-Japanese taking the Hato sightseeing bus service in Tokyo has dropped to an average of 5 people a day.
  • Okinawa’s incredibly popular beach resort had over 10,000 cancellations in just 1 week after the Fukushima incident.
  • The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route through the northern Japan alps dropped from its usual 4,000 foreign tourists to only 60.
  • At the famous Tsurugajo castle in the Aizuwakamatsu area (in the Fukushima prefecture), tourist numbers fell by 70% in the first half of April as compared to last year — even though this zone is not an evacuation zone or declared potentially dangerous.
  • The Matsushima Taikanso hotel, boasting a spectacular view over the Matsushima bay and islets from the Miyagi prefecture, confirmed all their reservations were canceled until autumn from it’s visitors from Taiwan and Hong Kong — even though this hotel was not affected by the Tsunami.

Many tourist-focused businesses are praying for the tourists to come and see their cities, towns, and prefectures are fine. Some prefectures have even announced on their website (in english) that their food and water is perfectly safe.

We hope these statistics from the Yomiuri shimbun make you rethink canceling any trips to the land of the rising sun. Don’t be fooled by what media tells you. The media prefers sensationalistic news as it attracts more viewers and readers, so we hope this article helps put a realistic view on how things really are in Japan.

Category Offbeat
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  • Anonymous

    I was supposed to be in Japan right now… but the people I was supposed to go with didn’t want to go anymore, and some people around didn’t understood why I still wanted to go… Maybe if they ad read that before that would have change something :/

    • Jun-Ah

      I was in contract with a german association for Voluntary Year of Social Service to go to Japan starting from September but now they put it on hold and i think they will cancel it for sure.
      Even though everyone around me tells me not to go I still rlly want to. Of course i understand the danger of the radiation but on the other hand it’s a once in a lifetime chance and if everyone was honest how many problems have there been with nuclear powerplants near their homes. Each government as same as the powerplant operators are just covering up when something gies wrong. I know of a various failures of one certain plant not too far from here so i think we all are or were exposed to radiation more or less.

      back to topic :3 i just hope they can manage the situation there somehow and i think that the reopenings of different tourist attractions like Tokyo Disneyland helps business to recover.


    >>Where many tourists now think of Japan as a construction site affacted by large quantities of nuclear particles polluting the air and water. This is by far correct!<<

    You need too fix the last 5 words.

    • Jonathan P

      That is what I was thinking. I saw that and went “huh?” Seems like “far from” it was what I expected to see. But yeah it has been unfortunately overblown just a bit.

      Anyway, it’s been one month from the bigger one almost. I hope it doesn’t last too long. I might plan to go this year myself, hopefully sooner than later.

    • Anonymous

      The worst is, I believe or want to believe, over. Tourist should be able to come here without much fear. if you are staying a week or even 3 month this won’t really matter. However the risk IS still here for people who will stay forever and grow-up here. Once again, this was a MAJOR, yet unique, Nuclear accident with radioactive material deliberately spilled out in the water, ground and in the air to protect us from the worse. But still and even these low level of radioactivity if ingested (Water and Food) for a long period of time can have some effect on the population.

      So please feel free to come for a while, if you consider staying in Japan for a very long period of time maybe you should reconsider this especially if you are coming with kids or want to have kids here.

  • Lenawash

    You can’t really blame tourists for cancelling their reservation when Akihabaranews’ own reporters fled when they should have known better.

    • Anonymous

      After three repetitive explosions of the first confinements vessel (the Huge cage), the lack of information of both the GVT and Tepco, their lack of immediate response, you too maybe you will consider dropping your kid(s) somewhere else and try to come back as soon as you can… Oddly enough, in the plan that took us to France there where only 20 foreigners in board of a 777 Full of Japanese, did they all the sudden flew to France for fun?
      Also despite what you want to believe, the consequence in the Future of this will be huge on the population especially kids, who are more sensitive to radiations.
      Your comment remind my the one of those who said that Chernobyl radioactive cloud stop at the French border to later discover that many kinds, myself included have Thyroid problems. Granted my problem is light but I know so many other people of my age who have much more problems that I do… So, sorry if I though that my soon to be four year old daughter health was a priority.

  • Jim

    OK, I’m a bit lost about the relationship of the title regarding aid programs and the drop in tourism. Yes, there is a relationship that the Japanese local economy is being hurt by the lack of tourists, but then again, what does this have to do with the aid programs?

    • Anonymous

      I can’t speak for Ike, but promoting Aid programs is not the best ads in order to attract tourist.

    • Ike Leus

      Yes, there is many relationship (like Akihabaranews mentioned) between aid programs and a country’s tourism. Like the last time in Haiti… Did you want to visit Haiti after all the stuff the news showed you? No you didn’t, and I am positive that there were places who were ok. Same scenario here with Japan now, overblown anxiety.

  • ToyNN

    I didn’t want to cancel my trip but had to 3+ weeks ago. The friends I was going with had a bunch of set plans for their children to visit Edo village and other spots. Unfortunately these were either closed or couldn’t say if they would be open during our stay. That made it very difficult, along with everything less. We’re now planning for a fall trip…lets hope its better by then!

  • fh

    Please, please get a proper English writer, *especially* when it comes to serious posts like this.

    “This is by far correct.” → “This is far from correct.”
    “From Hokkaido up to Okinawa” → “From Okinawa up to Hokkaido”
    I would also discourage use of “flushing”; the word “flush” is typically associated with getting rid of (unwanted/unneeded) things, and in this context is insensitive and almost disrespectful to the victims and their families.

    For a more complete view, you shouldn’t *only* focus on the cancellations. After all, can you really blame foreigners for postponing their trips when even *Japanese* themselves are avoiding the Fukushima area? (And that is an ongoing fact, not an exaggerated media report.)

    What you need to provide are resources that help travelers understand the safety of their region:
    – Secretary Edano promotes Fukushima produce that has been scanned and confirmed safe.
    – Links to water radiation level monitors in several primary vacation prefectures.
    – Comparisons of ongoing radiation levels in Japan with normal levels in Japan, and normal levels elsewhere.

    • Ike Leus

      Yes I know, was past midnight when I started to write this. Didn’t get a chance on much proofreading. Actually I didn’t knew It would’ve been posted so fast. …my bad! Not the owner’s mistake.

      Sometimes it’s hard to have up to 4 articles open on screen from different Japanese media and try to condense all this in a post. You just type the bits and pieces that come up and make them go together to create a small report about the matter.

      Describing the safety of the region … I think this is easier said than done, unless CNN and the big broadcasts start doing “visit Japan” promo’s, it’s not going to be “indoctrinated” as well. When you would ask any random guy or lady on the street about Japan AS A COUNTRY, they’d tell you one of the following keywords: Nuclear plant, Earthquake, Tsunami, Destruction, …. where 2 months ago it would have been: Tea ceremonies, Culture, Samurai, Ancient temples, Anime, Electronics, … Their conception will restore over time, but definitely not overnight.

  • Jonhohx

    ill b there in july!!!! got my ticket last yr and a small ammount of radiation is not gonna stop me

  • Guest

    Please find something better to criticize.

  • EditPlease

    You guys need to hire an English speaking native to do your proofreading. Terrible article.

  • John

    I wouldn’t mind visiting Japan, but right now the Yen is stronger than the dollar and round trip plane tickets are very high. Once those two obstacles are solved then you can count on me showing my support by being a tourist.

  • Alex

    The statistics posted from the Yomiuri Shimbun are definitely interesting and paint a picture of the scale of the fall in tourism since the earthquake/tsunami hit but I would have to agree with some of the other comments below that this article fails to thoroughly address the title of the article – “Are Japan aid programs really helping Japan?” (Probably sounds better as “Are Japanese aid programs really helping Japan?”)

    I know that Akihabaranews specializes in tech news but when you put such an eye-catching article up there (which *did* draw my attention to clicking on the link) I think a reader expects to come away from reading the article with either:
    1) Ahhh, so Japanese aid programs ARE helping Japan due to X, Y, Z.
    2) Ahhh, so Japanese aid programs AREN’T helping Japan due to X, Y, Z.
    3) Ahhh, so Japanese aid programs ARE helping Japan but also hurting Japan due to X, Y, Z.

    My take from the article was that there was a tremendous drop in tourism, but a solid correlation between Japanese Aid Program and the drop in tourism wasn’t made clear. The drop in tourism could be for a variety of reasons – a massive earthquake just hit, a massive tsunami just hit, half the trains in Tokyo (a major transport hub) are not running, foreign embassies are recommending tourists not to come due to infrastructure disruptions, fears of spreading nuclear fallout, tourist agencies recommending tourists not to come or possibly just common sense that human beings don’t desire traveling to post-crisis hit countries.

    I did enjoy the article and appreciate that an effort was made to prepare it – I just think the quality of the writing can improve in the future which would increase the readership.. which is good for business after all. Not to mention that

    In closing let me just say that you neatly fingered one major driver of the drop in tourism.. and it wasn’t Aid programs.

    “Due to the mass media touting the help and rescue for the victims of the Sendai, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures, the country’s tourism business is in a sharp decline. ”

    Due to the mass media..

    mass media..


    ta da!

    • Ike Leus

      so spot on! You know soo well that I needed to use “aid programs” and coudn’t go with mass media, since AkihabaraNews is also a media outlet… You’re a clever guy, If I wrote “mass media is the curse on Japanese tourism” then you could’ve made the perfect comment “aren’t you media yourself posting about the quake?”. ^_^)/

      My X-Y-Z theory.. again, you see through this, you know how to corelate, own opinion is all what matters, no indoctrination. I don’t want to feed readers with simple sensation, give them something to chew on and create an open opinion.



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