Passport applications in Tokyo nearing pre-pandemic levels

Passport applications in Tokyo have been returning to near pre-pandemic levels, raising hope in the tourism industry for a recovery in demand for travel abroad.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government says the preliminary figure for passport applications in April this year reached more than 55,000, close to pre-pandemic levels.

The figure of last April came to about 21,000, or 35 percent of the number in April 2019, before the spread of the coronavirus.

Officials attribute the recovery to normalization of economic activities.

At a passport center in the capital, some people were applying to renew their passports, which had expired because they were unable to travel abroad amid the pandemic.

A 24-year-old woman said she came to renew her passport as it expired last year. She said she is looking forward to travelling overseas with her family for the first time in several years.

Japan's foreign ministry says there were 21.75 million unexpired passports at the end of December 2022. The figure is down 28 percent from 30.27 million at the end of December 2019.

Travel agencies say people should carry out the application procedures and pay the renewal fee, which could make them reluctant to travel abroad.