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Growing up in Southern California, I’ve experienced my fair share of earthquakes. Earthquakes became so frequent that instead of running for cover, I was accustomed to laying  in my bed and staring at the ceiling waiting for it to pass (having no understanding of how serious an earthquake can be). Unfortunately, the citizens who endured the 2011 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan were not as fortunate as I was. There were over 15,ooo deaths, 5,900 injuries, 4,000 people unaccounted for and a country left in despair. Although the country has been working diligently to restore and reconstruct the affected regions, their tourism levels has dramatically decreased by more than 50% within the first 90 days of the earthquake.

Within the last few days media sites have been reporting that the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) is providing 10,000 free flights, worth 14.3 billion, to foreigners to visit Japan. People, do not be fooled people. The Japanese Diet is only considering this suggestion made by the JTA. So if you thought were you were going to start searching for your free flight, you may want to think again. JTA released the following statements on JTA’s website:

Thank you for your interest in visiting Japan…this initiative is still under examination for government budgetary approval and is at this moment undecided. When this initiative is decided to put into operation, Japan Tourism Agency will officially announce details on this website. Warning: There have been reports in some countries that acts of fraud related to this media report are observed. Japanese government never makes a commitment to provision of free flight tickets to Japan to anybody. Please be careful not to be involved in this kind of fraud.

If you give the media an inch, they will certainly take a mile. I hate to say it, but once again we have been bamboozled. I would love to visit Japan, but I will factor in the cost of my flight with the rest of my expenses when planning for a Japanese vacation in my future!