CAIRO – Following other Japanese airports, Chubu airport in Central Japan Nagoya city has announced plans to offer prayer rooms and halal food for Muslim travelers, as the airport starts a new route to Malaysia.
“(Malaysia) is a region full of vitality, and we have great expectations that the number of visitors from there will increase,” Kenichi Suzuki, director of the company’s sales promotion planning division, told The Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday, March 5.
“I hope to make the airport a place that Muslim people will look forward to visiting again.”
Suzuki’s announcement comes as airport officials announced their plan to open a prayer room on the second floor of the terminal building on March 17, the first day of the new route to Malaysia.
The carpeted 20-square-meter space will have an arrow on the ceiling pointing toward Makkah.
A similar facility will be set up in the international departure area on the third floor in April, the officials said.
Narita, Kansai, New Chitose and other airports in Japan have similar prayer spaces for Muslims, the officials said.
Along with prayer rooms, some restaurants in the Chubu Airport terminal building will offer halal food items in their menus to satisfy Muslims’ appetite.
The move followed earnest efforts by airports in Japan to become friendly to Muslims
The steps included increasing the number of private prayer rooms for Muslims as well as offering halal meals in compliance with Islamic rules.
The steps were announced amid plans to show the heart of Japanese hospitality as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
The new steps followed Japan’s decision to relax the rules for issuance to visas to visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia and three other Southeast Asian nations in July.
Muslims account for an estimated 90% of Indonesia's 240 million population and 60% of Malaysia's 29 million.
A total of 28,000 people visited Japan from Indonesia and Malaysia in October, up 40% from a year earlier.
Islam began in Japan in the 1920s through the immigration of a few hundreds of Turkish Muslims from Russia following the Russian revolution.
In 1930, the number of Muslims in Japan reached about 1000 of different origins.
Another wave of migrants who boosted the Muslim population reached its peak in the 1980s, along with migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Japan today is home to a thriving Muslim community of about 120,000, among nearly 127 million in the world's tenth most populated country.
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