To no one’s surprise, consumer confidence dropped during the month of March, according to the Cabinet Office , by 2.3 percentage points, the steepest month-on-month decline since April 2004. The office surveyed 4,704 households throughout Japan after the earthquake of March 11 to gauge consumption sentiments and found negatives across the board, meaning not much desire to spend money. In particular, only 30.3 percent of the respondents said they were planning to travel for pleasure between April and June, usually a peak tourist season in Japan. The portion was 3.3 points lower than it was last year, another record drop.
Golden Week falls in this period, but it’s also the time when students go on school trips. Normally, junior high schools and high schools in Western Japan and Hokkaido visit the Tokyo Metropolitan area, but one major travel agent interviewed by the internet news service J-Cast said that 80 percent of the schools planning excursions to Tokyo have either cancelled their trips “or indicated they may cancel” them. One junior high school in the Kansai area told J-Cast that it had changed its trip from Tokyo to Kyushu because “public transportation in Tokyo is still a problem and radiation in Shinjuku remains above safe levels.”
According to the Osaka Board of Education, 20 percent of its 130 junior high schools had planned to go to Tokyo and all “are thinking of going somewhere else.” An Okinawan travel agency said that 50 Kansai schools comprising some 5,000 students had changed their travel plans from Tokyo to Okinawa in the past several weeks.