Who can travel to Japan in 2020?
In the continuous flow of unclear, biased, sometimes full of contradictions, and confusing information provided in the media, it can be difficult to understand which category of travelers is really authorized to enter Japanese territory at a precise moment.
Additionally, a handful of airlines continue to run weekly round trips between Japan and the other continents. For example, three of the main companies (Air France, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways) have maintained direct flights ✈️ between Paris and Tokyo, every three days on average.
As a complement to our article "When and how to travel in japan with looming coronavirus 🦠" (see below), we thought it was necessary to take stock on the gradual reopening of Japanese borders. This article will naturally be updated following new announcements made by Japanese government.
🛂 Temporary visitors (tourists)
Japanese frontiers are currently closed to tourism until further notice.
Presently Japan has barred entry from 159 countries, in other words, almost 100% of foreign visitors. As far as Kanpai’s readers are concerned, the list includes Western Europe, Canada, the United States, and all developed countries, inter alia.
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More precisely, the official temporary rule states that travelers cannot enter Japan if they stayed in one of these 159 countries during the last 14 days. However, Japanese immigration implements a quite different interpretation of the law: the citizenship is considered above all else and entrance can be denied (although rarely) even if the traveler is abiding to the law.
🏡 Permanent residents (expatriates) or not
Coming back to Japan or going to live in Japan is possible under precise and strict conditions.
Foreign expatriates in Japan were "stuck" in or outside the country between late March and the end of August: if they left, the probability was high that they cannot return, notwithstanding their situation in Japan. About ~90.000 foreign residents (on a total of 2,6 million) were affected by the impossibility to return to Japan.
Since September 1, expatriates who left Japan are finally authorized to come back, regardless of their departure date, under the following conditions:
- Proof in English of a negative PCR test made 48h before arrival;
- Negative salivary test when landing at the airport (about 2h wait);
- Immigration permission delivered by their countries’ Embassy; and,
- A fourteen-days self-isolation after landing.
New expatriates from the following countries can come to live in Japan:
- Since September 8, from the 7 following countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar;
- And from 9 other Asia-Pacific area's countries, including Singapore, China, Hong-Kong, South Korea, Australia, and New-Zealand.
Gradual reopening according to nationalities starting in September.
On July 14, the Japanese minister of Foreign Affairs announced a coming reopening for European and American businessmen landing in Japan with private jet.
The usual business travels are also authorized again, under the condition of a PCR test, but without 14-day self-isolation at arrival:
- From September 18 for Singaporians.
👨🎓 Foreign students and teachers
Going to study in Japan is possible since August under specific conditions.
On August 22, in a surprise announcement, we learnt that foreign students will be authorized to enter Japan as soon as possible, and probably from early September. The first students concerned are Japanese government sponsored / MEXT students (with the condition of taking a PCR test at arrival and observe a 14-day self-isolation), and the measure will be extended to all the students over the next weeks.
Moreover, teachers in international schools in Japan were authorized reentry since August 4.
🏅 Tokyo 2021 Olympics Athletes
Gradual reopening by nationalities since September.
The 11,000 athletes selected for Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games 🏅 are allowed in Japan since September 2020, for the preparation of the competition, starting from:
- Table tennis,
Two PCR tests must be conducted (before departure and upon landing) and a 14-day self-isolation is required.
🇯🇵 Japanese citizens
No restriction (even if you are Covid-positive!)
And for a simple and logical reason: as in most of the countries in the world, Japanese constitution does not allow to forbid one of their citizens to come back in their own country.
For instance, holders of several passports and nationalities can enter Japan with their Japanese passport, regardless of their country of origin and their health condition.
A salivary test is performed at disembarkation, with a result provided within 2 to 5 hours.