When will travel to Japan be possible again?
This is the trillion-yen question for Japan. Tourist arrivals have been down 99.9% on the previous year's levels for three consecutive months since April. The number of arrivals from foreign travellers was just 2,500 in June. These are the lowest totals recorded since records began in 1964 when the previous low for monthly foreign visitors was 17,543, recorded in February of that year(Kyodo News)
As one of the country's boom sectors over the past 10 years the question of how and when to re-open Japan's borders, currently closed to nationals from over 110 countries around the world, is near the top of the agenda.
Current Japanese government plans
Japan is considering ways to lift the travel ban for tourists in time for next year's Olympics, according to sources close to the Japanese government.
These rumours have yet to be confirmed on the record by a government official. However, they are the first time a roadmap for re-opening the country has been outlined in any form since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which is good news for anyone hoping to visit Japan in 2021. The proposals mentioned in the article may include a trial period which the sources indicated could begin in April 2021. Measures include:
- a consultation centre for foreign tourists regarding coronavirus
- requesting tourists to provide updates on their health using a smartphone app
- requirements for all visitors to have passed negative for the coronavirus prior to departure and upon entering Japan
- requirements for all visitors to have private medical insurance should they become infected in Japan
- an exemption of the current quarantine period of 14 days if visitors report their health condition via the app
While this story has been run by The Japan Times and a couple of Japanese outlets, there has been no official government announcement. If you have travel booked arriving before April 2021, we recommend that for now you sit tight and wait for any official government announcement before making any alterations to your plans.
Since the arrival of Yoshihide Suga into the Prime Minister's office, the Japanese government has stepped up its plans to re-open the country, announcing that it will allow mid- and long-term travellers into Japan from the beginning of October. While tourists themselves will have to wait a while longer, foreign students will now have all travel restrictions lifted. The government has set a quota of a maximum of 1000 entrants per day, and arrivals will need to self-quarantine for two weeks and follow other health protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The decision was made based on the findings that recently resumed business travel between Japan and 16 other largely Asian countries and regions has not led to a surge in coronavirus cases, which is encouraging as the government seems to be taking a more evidence-based approach.
After cases began declining again at the end of August, it was announced that all foreign residents would finally be allowed back into the country from September. Until that point Japan was the only G7 country to discriminate between residents and citizens in allowing re-entry to the country.