Once the idea came up in a government proposal, it quickly spread around the Internet and got attention from everywhere from Facebook to the Wall Street Journal.
The final decision is:
No, there will not be free tickets.
The Japan Tourism Agency released this statement in English:
The project titled Fly to Japan! (to offer flight tickets to 10,000 foreigners with high potential to communicate Japan’s attractions), which had been covered in a number of media in autumn this year, was not approved as a governmental draft budget of FY 2012.
We express our hearty gratitude to a multitude of people for offering inquiries and messages to support Japan after its coverage.
As the recovery from the earthquake is an ongoing urgent task, Japan has been vigorously working towards its restoration with the support from the world. Almost all of Japan has been back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. We are sincerely looking forward to having you to see Japan with your own eyes.
If you still need a cheap flight to Japan, you might want to check out our regularly-updated Cheap Flights section.