In 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics, 313,318 visitors from predominantly-Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Japan. Six years later, that number tripled to 914,371, according to official statistics.
That number doesn’t include visitors from other Muslim-majority regions. In 2019, 26,546 arrived from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and 22,724 from Turkey.
Arrivals from all these Muslim-majority nations may only have made up 3% of Japan’s visitors in 2019 but they were almost a million-strong, and their needs could not be ignored.
Japan has been diligently developing its Muslim-friendly tourism ecosystem over the last decade or so as more Muslims arrive to visit or live in the country. All of this was building up to the Olympics year when authorities were expecting 1.4 million Muslim visitors to flock to Tokyo.
With the pandemic cancelling international tourism since early 2020 and the government barring foreign spectators to the Games this year, how are Japan’s halal restaurants surviving?