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Sunday, 30th November 2014

Seven-Eleven to exempt consumption tax for tourists

Foreign tourists visiting Japan will soon be exempt from paying consumption tax at one of the country's most popular convenience stores, with Seven-Eleven set to introduce the measure at two of its major branches.

While the initiative is being introduced on a trial basis at the moment to see if there is much uptake, the convenience store giant has made it clear that it will be rolled out in more locations if it proves successful.

According to a recently released statement, part of the checkout counter will be converted into a special window where visitors from other countries will be able to show their passports and receive an eight per cent discount.

The two stores taking part in the trial are both frequented by foreign visitors - specifically one branch in Tokyo's Asakusa district near the Sensoji Temple and the other in central Kyoto.

If all goes to plan, Seven-Eleven hopes to roll out the initiative across the country in more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2015, meaning visitors in the entirety of Japan will be able to take advantage of the tax exemption.

The move follows legislation introduced by the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe that sees food, cosmetics and other inexpensive consumables joined such items as apparel and handbags last month as exempt from consumption tax for foreign visitors who spend more than 5,000 yen on such goods.

Prime minister Abe is on record as saying that such legislation will encourage tourists to spend more during their time in the country, helping to transform the industry. Other political figures such as the Mayor of Kyoto have also looked into attracting tourist shopping fanatics, with the former capital set to introduce more tax-free shopping over the course of 2015.