Monday, 28th July 2014
In General Japan News,
Government pushes for foreigner-friendly ATMs
Japan's banking system has long been criticised for being highly unfriendly to visitors from overseas, with many ATMs and cash distribution services refusing to hand over money to credit and debit cards from other countries.
And while steps have been taken to increase access to cash for foreigners, playing the game 'Will My Card Work Here?' remains one of the most frustrating parts of visiting this incredible country.
However, this is not likely to be the case for long, with the government planning to intervene so that those travelling to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games will be capable of withdrawing money from ATMs quickly and easily.
The move is definitely required - officials at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry claim less than a quarter of cash dispensers across the country are capable of allowing international withdrawals, based on figures taken from September last year.
And with plans to boost Japan's visitor numbers to 20 million a year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, there will be a great many more people needing to acquire yen from bank accounts based outside the country.
The issues mostly stem from the fact that the society is largely cash-based, and people are happy to carry hundreds of thousands of yen on their person thanks to the low crime rate.
So while the government may see to it that you can withdraw cash from a Japanese ATM using a foreign credit card, don't count on being able to use the same card to directly pay for a meal.
If you're travelling to Japan in the near future before these changes are implemented, it's worth noting that post office ATMs always accept foreign cards, as do many of those located in all-night 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Related news stories:
Japanese banks to boost ATM availability for tourists (17th March 2015)
Japanese government plans 30,000 wireless locations by 2020 (24th April 2015)
Diplomats returning to Tokyo, says government (21st April 2011)