Japan lifts travel ban on 106 countries — but don't pack your suitcase just yet
There aren’t too many countries that have deployed tighter COVID-19 travel restrictions since the start of pandemic than Japan has.
But now, after two years of marooning itself to international visitors, the Land of the Rising Sun is lifting its entry ban on 106 countries including the U.S., U.K., France and Canada.
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Currently, visitors from 106 countries will be able to enter Japan provided they can show a negative test within 72 hours of departure and have received a third dose of the vaccine.
But there’s a catch: while the inbound visitor cap has been boosted — up from 7,000 to 10,000 a day — foreigners traveling for tourism will still be denied entry to the country, with only business travelers, foreign students and researchers able to take advantage of the new ruling.
Japan, which has seen 6,887,421 infections and 28,528 deaths due to COVID-19, is still keeping the doors shut to tourists. Visa exemption agreements that Japan had in place with select countries are still currently suspended.
“In reality, there will be no change to who can enter Japan,” one government official told the Japan Times. "There won’t be anyone new who will be able to enter Japan as a result of this change.”
Last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno had hinted at a change in border policy, saying that "Japan plans to increase international movements of people in stages by taking into account the infection situation at home and abroad and border control measures that other major nations have taken," but as yet there's still no word on when international vacation travelers can visit.
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The Foreign Office states that: "You may apply for a visa to enter Japan for business, study or purposes other than tourism."
Right now, foreign nationals who do qualify for travel, including family members of Japanese nationals or business travelers, have to take a PCR test 72 hours before departure and then face a seven-day quarantine period when inside the country. Check the latest rulings before you fly.
Back in February it was reported that Japan may open up to international tourism sometime this spring. And while any hope of visiting for its famous cherry blossom season (March to May) has probably now wilted, there's every chance the latest changes could signal a shift toward international tourism before you know it.
Japan might not be saying sayonara to travel restrictions just yet, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.