Remember back in October when the Japanese Tourism Board was thinking out loud and announced that it had a plan to offer 10,000 free flights to foreigners in order to drive tourism to the country in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster?
Well, it turns out that the government really didn't see a good reason to allocate the original 1.1 billion yen (about US$14 million) from the requested 2012 budget for the program, so the agency issued a new press release today announcing that the offering would not be available and is now suggesting that interested people visit on their own dime in the excerpt below:
As the recovery from the earthquake is an ongoing urgent task, Japan has been vigorously working towards its restoration with the support from the world. Almost all of Japan has been back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. We are sincerely looking forward to having you to see Japan with your own eyes.
The related Japan National Tourism Organization based in the UK also stated the following regarding the cancellation:
We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights.
In a nutshell, the government didn't think budgeting money to give foreigners free flights to a country still in recovery mode after a natural disaster was appropriate and decided to put that money to better use, somewhere. Where that is exactly, I'm not sure.