So a few nights ago, I caught a live stream from a channel called Only in Japan Go. It’s run by journalist and 20+ year Japan Resident John Daub. I’ve been watching his content for years on this channel and his old one which shall not be named.
Since February, John has been doing Japan Travel Updates where he goes around Tokyo (and other prefectures of Japan) and shows what’s really happening on the ground. On the channel he also gives updates on news surrounding expats and foreigners living in Japan.
After watching the live steam, I decided to do a bit of digging on my own based on the resources he showed on screen.
In an article from August on the Japan Times website, it lays out procedures foreigners will have to endure for re-entry into Japan. Including but not limited to:
“Non-Japanese who left Japan by the end of August will need to contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or diplomatic office to acquire a letter confirming they have valid visas and are allowed to return.”
“People who are planning to leave Japan after Sept.1 are required to give the Immigration Services Agency detailed plans on their itinerary and will be allowed to travel as soon as they receive a document confirming the request has been accepted.”
“…starting from September, all non-Japanese, including permanent residents, will be required to undergo specific tests for COVID-19 in accordance with Japan’s guidelines prior to their leaving for Japan…”
“… all returnees are required to self-isolate for 14 days and are not allowed to use public transportation during that time.”
The article does point out that native Japanese do not have to undergo these rigorous procedures, even after traveling abroad.
After outcry from the expat community concerning the stark differences in treatment, Kyodo News reports that Japan is now permitting re-entry of foreigners “who had left Japan before April 3, even if they have resident status, except under special exceptional circumstances, such as the death of a family member.”
Kyodo News goes on to state that “returning residents will be required to take a polymerase chain reaction test within 72 hours before departing” for the country and will have to self-isolate for two weeks if allowed back.
Despite these newest restriction updates, the Japanese government does seem to be making an effort for returned cross-border travel. The government has been in talks with “16 economies, including China and South Korea” to relax restrictions on residents coming from these countries, as well of those looking to do business.
If you were not aware, China accounted for 1/3 of all inbound travelers to Japan last year.
Other Asian countries are expected to have re-entry restrictions eased, and those on business who meet certain qualifications will be “exempt from a 14-day self-quarantine period after arriving, provided they submit an itinerary of their stay…” and take other precautions such as limiting contact with Japanese citizens.
So with all of this in mind…
When Will Tourism Resume in Japan?
We know that Tokyo still intends on hosting the Olympics sometime next year.
And surely, despite the Japanese government wanting safety for their citizens – they cannot expect every single foreigner who visits during that time to self-isolate for 14 days and stay away from public transit.
So just how much can really change in a given year?
When faced with uncertainty and natural disasters in the past, the Japanese have proven themselves to be extremely driven.
We can look at the Meiji Restoration, where the country ‘modernized’ to a Western palate in 50 years. Or at least, that’s what we are taught in the American school system.
We could even reference the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Foreign news reports showed the country banding together in ways most others would not be able to in time of crisis.
I don’t mean to make this sound dramatic, or like the people of Japan are not known for their resilience and sense of community. I am just trying to bring up examples of where Japan has proven themselves against the odds despite speculated failure.
Despite all of the uncertainty surrounding this situation, I do have a faint hope that Japan will be open to tourism without so many restrictions in the near future.
What are your thoughts on this?
Will Japan ease travel restrictions on foreign residents and tourist before the Tokyo 2021 Olympics?
And just how long will any Japan entry ban last?
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