28 April 2023
Japan Snapshot: Immigration Queues
Immigration queues
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Immigration queues

Tokyo Narita is one of four airports in Japan named among the top 20 in the annual Skytrax World Airport Awards (with nearby Tokyo Haneda also winning the gong for world’s cleanest airport), but is there still room for improvement in some aspects of the traveller experience? TMAM senior strategist Hiro Kasai thinks so.

“Passing through Narita on the way back from a recent business trip, I noticed a seemingly endless line at the immigration gates for foreign nationals, while Japanese citizens breezed through a largely automated process with no waiting time. If you want to promote inbound travel, why not open the Japanese gate to ease congestion? I'm sure they must have already considered this, so what’s the problem – a lack of staff?”

More encouraging is the fact that customs declarations have been computerised (with the Visit Japan Web service), but ironically it seems that long queues of baggage-toting travellers waiting for the barcode reader are still making much slower progress than the traditionalists choosing to use the supposedly less efficient manned customs counter.

The latest data available shows visitor arrivals in Japan so far this year down some 40% against the historic highs of 2019, but after three years of Covid restrictions, it looks like a number of industries have reason for optimism. See our deep dive on inbound tourism to Japan from July 2022 for more details.

Inbound tourists begin to return after 2019 peak
Source: Japan Tourism Agency, Japan National Tourism Organization
Industries outperforming when inbound travel increases
Correlation between YoY change in number of inbound travellers and industry’s factor return (2014 to 2019). Source: MSCI Barra
About the author
Hiro Kasai, Senior Strategist
A founding figure in TMAM’s investment process, with three and a half decades’ experience in asset management, including spells as CIO of TMAM and CEO of its New York subsidiary, as well as head of Asian investment for the Tokio Marine Group. When not providing macroeconomic and market insights, Hiro enjoys onsen trips and countryside walks.

The information contained in this document is intended solely for the purposes of information only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation by anyone in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation. This report has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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