The government introduced a departure tax Monday, collecting ¥1,000 per head from people who leave the country by aircraft or ship, regardless of nationality.
The levy, collected when international tourists buy air and ship tickets, is intended to secure financial resources for beefing up measures to accept more visitors from abroad, as the government aims to make Japan a tourism-oriented country.
People leaving Japan within 24 hours of transit entry and children under 2 years old are exempted from the tax. So are those who depart from Japan after entering the country due to bad weather or other unavoidable circumstances.
The levy is the first new permanent tax introduced in Japan since the land value tax was put into force in 1992.
The government estimates departure tax revenue at ¥6 billion in fiscal 2018 through March and ¥50 billion in fiscal 2019.
The revenue will be used, among other things, to increase the number of facial recognition gates at airports for speedier immigration procedures and install more multilingual information boards at cultural properties and national parks.
The number of visitors to Japan continues to increase, topping 30 million in 2018. The government aims to boost the annual number to 40 million in 2020, when the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held.
On Monday morning, foreign visitors leaving Japan from Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, showed various reactions to the new tax.
Investments to boost the number of foreign tourists are necessary, said a corporate employee, 50, from Shanghai. She expressed hope that Japan will put the the tax revenue to good use.