Below, we review its current rules and consider what the tourist experience might look like if the country reopens significantly this summer.
Can I go to Japan?
Tourist visas remain suspended, so it is currently not possible to spend holidays in Japan. Foreign nationals with a residence permit are allowed to travel and it is possible to request a visit for business or study. A cap on overseas arrivals remains in place and currently stands at 10,000 passengers a day, up from 7,000 earlier this year.
Those who obtain a visa must meet the following conditions before traveling to Japan:
- Show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight departure time
- Sign a written pledge that commits you to abide by all quarantine and self-isolation rules and a number of other requirements
- Fill out an online health quiz
Upon arrival, visitors must take another PCR test and download a health monitoring app.
When does it reopen?
No announcement has been made on exact timings, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s statement on May 5 suggests the first tourists will be able to visit the country from June.
Following the prime minister’s tentative announcement, major Japanese newspapers offered conflicting reports on timelines and what the reopening might look like, although most suggested that at least some tourists will be able to visit from next month.
What will the rules be?
Details are yet to be confirmed, but Japan’s Fuji News Network reported that those planning to visit the country must have received at least three Covid vaccines. In addition, they are expected to be required to travel as part of a package tour and not be able to move freely within the country. Citing government officials, the broadcaster said the limited reopening would be treated as an experiment and expanded if it did not negatively impact Covid rates.
A daily visitor cap is also expected to remain, meaning competition to travel to Japan could be fierce. However, the Nikkei newspaper has suggested that figure will at least double to 20,000.
It should be noted that if the country were to genuinely follow other G7 nations, as Prime Minister Kishida’s speech suggested, restrictions could range from nothing (according to the UK) to both proof of vaccination and a negative test before departure (according to the United States).
What is the Covid situation on the ground?
Japan has recorded 7.99 million Covid cases since the start of the pandemic, but only 29,724 deaths from the virus – a number far lower than many other comparable countries. Cases have declined steadily since an omicron-fueled surge earlier this year.
In terms of on-the-ground restrictions, its national state of emergency was lifted in March and cross-country travel, dining out and other activities are permitted. Masks are worn by overwhelming numbers of citizens indoors and outdoors and social distancing guidelines remain in place.