Whilst other leading international nations have been opting for a more closed door approach – most notably America and front-runner Donald Trump’s most recent comments that suggested the banning of all Muslims in the US – the Japanese government set targets for 2020 to increase the number of Muslims travelling and holidaying in Japan. With these targets having already been met, one of Asia’s leading economies is set to get stronger.
The approach has largely contradicted the widely spread idea, especially among American conservatives, that Muslims are not even allowed to enter Japan. Yet, the complete opposite seems to be the case as the Abe government’s target of attracting 20 million visitors by 2020 has already been met, leading them to revise the figures to 30 million.
According to the figures compiled by the Japan National Tourism Organization, by October this year there was a rise of 18.2% in the number of Malaysian inbound tourists visiting over last year’s figures. In equivalent strength, the number of Indonesians visiting Japan was even more dramatic at 30.8%. With such figures, the forecasted ones appear that something like 270,000 Malaysian and just under 200,000 Indonesians will have visited Japan this year.
In order to prepare for the increasing number of visitors, Aichi Prefecture in central Japan have recently published a Japanese-language Muslim Hospitality Handbook to help guide locals on how to best welcome them. Detailing the religious expectations and cultural customs of those under the Islamic faith, the handbook is further evidence of the great lengths Japan is going to in order to encourage a greater influx of Muslim holiday makers. In its most accommodating expansion, Japanese restaurants have been gradually moving towards entering the halal food market.
Whilst the majority have been coming from Malaysia and Indonesia, many Japanese locals – notably restaurant owners – have noticed visitors from further afield, such as Saudi Arabia.
– Izzy Lyons, Correspondent (Business)