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Servicemembers won’t have to pay Japan’s new departure tax if on official travel

If traveling on official business, U.S. military personnel are exempt from Japan's new 1,000-yen departure tax.

COURTESY OF PIXABAY

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 4, 2019

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — U.S. military personnel are exempt from Japan’s new departure tax when they’re travelling on official business, according to U.S. Forces Japan.

Starting Monday, Japan will charge travelers 1,000 yen, or about $9.25, each time they leave the country by aircraft or ship.

Revenue from the tax will help the government accommodate more foreign travelers, improve immigration processes and develop tourism as the nation gears up for an influx of visitors ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup and next year’s Olympic Games.

People who stay in Japan less than 24 hours and children under 2 years old won’t have to pay the tax. Neither will those who bought their airline tickets before Monday.

Those in the country under the status of forces agreement won’t have to pay the tax when they’re on official travel, according to USFJ spokeswoman Air Force Maj. Genieve White.

“The US and Japan have agreed that travel for official purposes under the SOFA is exempt from the International Tourist Tax,” she said in an email Thursday. “The tax will not be added to tickets purchased through official Travel Management Companies.”

The tax, which is expected to generate $462 million in fiscal year 2019, will pay for facial recognition gates at airports, multilingual information boards and cashless payment systems on public transport, according to The Japan Times.

The government wants to increase the annual number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020, the newspaper reported.

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

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