Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has remained one of the most difficult countries in the world to enter. But this is expected to change this fall, as Japan entry restrictions finally appear poised to loosen.
For over two years, Japan has been mostly isolated from the rest of the world from a tourism perspective. There are strict requirements for a sponsored visa to be allowed entry, and stringent border crossing caps. Perhaps most difficult for would-be travelers to Japan is the current mandate that only allows visitors from many nations – including the United States – to travel to Japan on guided, chaperoned tours.
Of course, this was all done to reduce COVID-19 transmission, and it was initially very successful. However, it has also dealt a big blow to Japanese tourism. Once the third-largest tourism market in the world in terms of revenue, Japan has approved just over 12,000 visitors for guided tours in September. Compare this to 2019, when nearly three million tourists were arriving every month!
Japanese Entry Rules that are Set to Ease
According to Japan News, the strictest entry requirements set to expire soon include the following:
Requirement for Visa Sponsorship
Throughout the pandemic, visitors from most nations, Americans included, have been required to obtain a sponsored tourist visa from a state-regulated travel agency at Japanese consulates, costing them both time and money.
With the upcoming relaxation of Japanese entry requirements, residents of many nations will no longer be required to complete this arduous step. For instance, most Americans will once again be able to visit Japan visa-free for tourism purposes.
Daily Entry Caps
Per the report, Japan’s current daily entry cap, which was raised from 20,000 people per day to 50,000 people per day earlier in September, should expire sometime in October. This means that visitors who do not require a visa to travel to Japan will no longer have to compete with those on Japan’s list of pre-approved monthly travelers, and will no longer have to apply in advance to travel to Japan.
Guided Group Tours
Americans in particular are mentioned in the report as being one group that will no longer have to be chaperoned on guided tours in order to visit Japan once entry rules are relaxed. As most travelers do not want to be limited on where they can visit and what they can do during an expensive international trip, this is especially welcome news.
The news will likely be welcome by Japanese businesses as well. In 2019, some 32 million people visited Japan, adding a big boost to the country’s economy that has been missing for some time.
When are Japanese Entry Requirements Set to Be Removed?
The current tentative date for daily travel cap removal is October, with the remainder of restrictions expected to relax after that. However, no official date for full reopening has yet been given.
Speaking of which, do not expect Japan to fully reopen the way many European nations have, with zero vaccination or testing requirements. All signs point to Japan continuing to require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. COVID testing may also be required for those who have not received at least three vaccine doses (full vaccination, plus a booster). This will mean that any vaccine without a third booster dose available – which includes some Chinese vaccines – will not be eligible for “full vaccination” under current Japanese rules.
Will Travel Insurance Be Required to Enter Japan?
Though proof of insurance has been required in order to take part in some Japanese guided tours up to this point, it remains to be seen if there will be an insurance requirement for all visitors, or what exactly those requirements might entail.
The best course of action for anyone traveling to Japan would be to get travel medical insurance or travel insurance regardless of any requirement. Travel mishaps, injuries, and illnesses occurred long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to occur on international trips now. It only makes sense to protect your finances and health with appropriate international insurance.