A few months ago the Japan Tourism Agency sent out a press release that read they would propose 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012 to bolster tourism and the image of Japan as a safe place to visit. As you can imagine, otaku around the world stormed the Japan Tourism Agency website for more information on how to apply totally disregarding words like “plan” or “proposal” not realizing that it was far from happening.
Well, yesterday the Japan Tourism Agency announced that the plan had been rejected making way for us realists to crack a smile and give a little I-told-you-so to those idiot dreamers that thought a country in financial disarray far from recovery, could ever afford a somewhat outlandish expense. So in no particular order, here are 5 reasons why the “10,000 free flights” plan was never going to happen:
1. Japan’s economy.
Japan’s economy is so unstable it’s not even a joke anymore. The reality of how much it costs to take care of the elderly in a country where the elderly outnumber the youth 2 to 1 is starting to put a strain on Japan economically and it’s only going to get worse.
2. The plan would cost much more than just the free tickets.
For those of you doing the math on how much 10,000 free airline tickets would cost, thinking that it wouldn’t be that expensive, think again. Don’t forget to include the number of manhours it would take to go through every application. The number of employees that would either be taken away from their normal duties or hired to go through hundreds of thousands of applications would cost much more than the plane tickets themselves.
3. Remember Fukushima?
The point of the plan was to bolster tourism in a country that was viewed as dangerous due to radiation but we’ve all seen the pictures of the devastation. Does anyone think the economic benefits of a bunch of people blogging about Japan will outweigh the immediate need for that money to go to the communities struggling to recover?
The DPJ is in power right now but that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable to the LDP. Making room for this plan in the budget would have been political suicide for the DPJ. After all, even if it is worth it economically, how can you sell the Japanese public on free airline tickets to foreigners when images of still homeless Japanese dominate Japan.
5. It was never meant to be approved.
Call me cynical but maybe this was the plan all along. Maybe, the Japan Tourism Agency didn’t expect the plan to get approved. It only makes sense. Japan got so much good press from a simple idea that probably took all of one work day to throw together. Then make an official proposal even though everyone in the Japan Tourism Agency and all of those who plan the budget knew it wouldn’t pass. Who knows?
Even if I’m right in regards to reason 5, it was a great idea while it lasted and I hope it inspired thousands to remember why Japan is one of those places you’ve “always wanted to visit.” Maybe even inspired them enough to save their nickels and dimes and do their part in helping out post-Fukushima Japan by travelling there themselves.