Travel & Tourism

For people who intend to join the Japanese tourism industry

  1. The Japanese government has developed a campaign, "Visit Japan Eto increase foreign tourists to 10 million by 2010. "Visit Japan"has been successful as shown in the increase of tourists from the initial 5,210,000 in 2003 to 8,340,000 in 2007.
    As tourism is increasing rapidly in Japan, the industry is lucrative.
    Please consult the reference below:
    Condition of Tour Guide and Resort Activity Instructors in Japan: click here
  2. To all people involved in Japanese tourism industry , the History of Japanese Travel Agency Law is very important:

The Japanese Travel Agency Law has played a central role within the greater body of Japanese Tourism Law, regulating the travel agent. Begun in 1952, the main characteristic of this law requires that travel agencies be licensed and to provide sufficient deposited funds against bankruptcy.

In 1964, the restrictions on Japanese traveling abroad were lifted; prior to 1964 Japan lacked sufficient foreign currency, thus restricting overseas travel. The Japanese exchange rate changed dramatically during the 1970-1973 period; and then again like a rocket in 1986. As the economy of post-war Japan stabilized more citizens experienced traveling overseas, and by 1994, at its peak, the value of the yen was 400% of its value in 1949. However, as a group of people, Japanese traveling overseas were unknowledgeable in not only foreign languages, but also about foreign culture. Therefore most travelers utilized package tours, usually accompanied by a tour conductor well versed in the foreign language and customs of the destination. Fundamentally, this trend continues even today.

In 1971, a major revision in the Japanese Travel Agency Law was made, coinciding with the boom in the exchange rate. Licensing was divided into three categories: licenses to handle both domestic and international package tours, only domestic package tours, and a license that does not include domestic nor international package tours. These three licenses differed in the amount of deposited funds held by the company, as companies handling overseas package tours would be dealing with a greater monetary value of sales and cost.

Furthermore, the Alternative Dispute Resolution, (ADR), a feature of Japanese culture and law, was approved by the Ministry of Transportation to monitor and settle claims against travel agencies. Since that time the Japan Travel Industry has made an effort to incorporate ADR into all of its contractual relationships, Japanese people in general seek to avoid actual litigation, and only use the courts as the very last resort when agreement between the parties cannot be reached. Hence, we can see the reason the Japanese Bar is one of the smallest in the world. That is only 22,049 for a population of 127,433,494; compared to California’s 210,000-plus members of the bar for a population of 36,457,549. Japan has 1 attorney for every 5,780 people; while California, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers in the English speaking world has 1 attorney for every 174 people. Note that California and Japan are roughly the same size in terms of land mass.

In 1982, a dramatic revision was made in the Travel Agency Law adopting an exceptional compensation system. Due to this revision a fixed no-fault compensation claim was set on overseas accidents. In an event of death, the compensation would be 15 million yen per person (approx. 100,000 euros) which was increased to 20 million yen in 1989.

In 1995, again following another boom for the Japanese economy, another a significant revision was made in the Travel Agency Law, adopting the Travel Agency Law system to guarantee against changes in the start and end of a tour, destination, sightseeing landmarks, hotels, and/or transportation carriers, thus placing a fixed no-fault extraordinary compensation system.

Article 5 of the European Council Directive of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours (See 90/314/EEC) which states the organizer and/or retailer in the contract is liable for the proper performance of their obligations and for the obligations of the service provider was the precedent for the Travel Agency Law of Japan designating the travel agency as liable by default.

However, in Japan the travel agency is only responsible for the selection and supervision of the on-site service provider. Furthermore, at this time, there is a fixed no-fault liability for changes in designated hotels and/or air carriers. The compensation is 2% of the total package tour fee, later this was changed to 3% of the package tour fee.

In 2005, the Travel Agency Law was revised to increase the compensation in an event of death overseas from 20 million yen to 25 million yen (roughly 160,000 euros). Moreover, the securitization of funds in an event of bankruptcy would be paid to the consumer as priority.

As you can see, these changes were adopted in phases occurring about every 10 years. As major changes have occurred in domestic and international travel, more constant revisions are favorable to keep pace with the world economy for travel and tourism.

Kaneko Hirohito Law Office
Wako-Ginza 8-chome Bldg. 7F 8-10-4, Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0061, Japan [MAP]
Tel: 03-3574-8535 / Fax: 03-3574-7144 / Email: