Passport center in Tokyo crowded as COVID rules eased

A Tokyo passport center has been crowded with people preparing to go overseas now that COVID-19 rules have been eased.

The facility says it accepted more than 18,000 applications in April. That's nearly three times the figure one year ago, and close to the pre-pandemic level.

A couple in their third year of marriage said they had never traveled abroad together and are planning to go to the United States.

A woman said her daughter will study in Australia, so she got a passport just in case she needs to travel there.

Major agencies say the number of travel bookings for this summer is recovering.

One says its reservations for overseas trips have been about 200 times the number a year ago. Another tour provider said Taiwan and South Korea are popular destinations.