In the past several years, many of us have grown accustomed to increased border restrictions internationally.
In the efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, most countries have made it far more difficult to enter their borders for any but the most essential purposes. Japan was, of course, no exception, and for the last 2 years, it has been difficult for non-residents to enter the country for any but the most essential of reasons. However, in recent days, it seems that these decisions are set to reverse; in an effort to reintroduce tourism to the country, many of the restrictions to which we’ve grown accustomed are being relaxed or lifted entirely. In this article, we’ll be walking through the recent changes and some of the potential changes we’ll see in the near future.
As of June 1, 2022, the requirements for travelers entering the country have changed. Countries have now been sorted into three categories (Blue, Yellow, and Red) and the specific requirements for vaccination records, Covid testing, and quarantines corresponds to the nation of the traveler’s origins, and it is important to read up on the specific requirements and conditions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
Broadly speaking, travelers who are fully vaccinated will be admitted into the country as long as they are arriving with their visas and other affairs in order, but the type and presence of vaccination records will determine if the traveler has to quarantine or if they even have to quarantine to begin with.
The main announcement that you may already be aware of is the new start-up of tourism visas. However, it is important to be aware that this does not mean that anyone will be able to come and tour the country as they see fit as they once could. In addition to the previously outlined information, tourists will be required to stick with strictly defined tour groups and forbidden from going anywhere independently, so as to minimize the risks of spreading the virus between countries.
While more restrictive and generally not the ideal situation for tourists or Japanese businesses that rely upon the revenue they bring in, it is an important stopgap solution while we wait for the last of the Covid waves to pass.
As of the writing of this article, all travelers are required to take an officially-administered PCR test before they are admitted to the country. However, the Japanese government has been looking at lifting this requirement for those who have received their 3rd dose of the Covid vaccine as soon as early September. This would be a welcome prospect, as the tests required are generally in the realm of $200-300 USD. With the general price of international travel, this can be a difficult prospect for more casual travelers, and the lifting of this requirement would go a long way into encouraging more people to take the plunge and visit the country.
While the pandemic is far from over, these changes are a glimpse at what may be the beginning of a return to a less restricted world. It is unlikely that Covid will ever completely disappear, these measures represent the first step of a global return to the status quo.