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What you need to know about the latest travel restrictions for Japan amid the pandemic
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What you need to know about the latest travel restrictions for Japan amid the pandemic

Japan is cautiously relaxing its strict border control policy to start allowing more foreign nationals to enter the country.

International

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan is cautiously relaxing its strict border control policy to start allowing more foreign nationals to enter the country.

With the latest revision to its travel restrictions, which came into effect earlier in November, the government has changed some procedures for new arrivals from abroad. While preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, authorities are also working toward easing the restrictions further for visitors planning to attend the sporting extravaganza.

The government has implemented separate sets of rules for travelers from regions placed at Level 3, the second-highest under the nation’s travel advisory system and under which all travel is warned against, while exempting from mandatory testing those from areas that have managed to control the spread of the virus.

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On Nov. 1, the government lowered its travel advisories for Australia, China, Brunei, Hong Kong, Macao, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam to Level 2, calling for nonessential travel to be avoided.

However, strict conditions for securing entry permission and ambiguity in the government’s guidelines on the border control policy, which was originally introduced in April to curb the spread of COVID-19 into Japan, continue to trigger confusion among visa applicants as well as their employers and organizations relying on skilled staff from overseas.

This article is aimed at clarifying application procedures for new visa applicants seeking entry to Japan.

Eligibility to seek entry

Foreign nationals from locations subject to existing travel restrictions, which now cover 152 countries and regions, who plan to visit Japan on short-term stays for recreational purposes are not yet eligible to apply for entry permission.

Travelers from other countries, including those that have been removed from the travel ban list but remain at Level 2 on the nation’s advisory for infectious diseases, are subject to certain requirements for entry.

Regardless of nationality or country of residence, foreign nationals who are planning to relocate to Japan are allowed to seek entry permission but under strict conditions. No limitations have been imposed on the visa categories for which they can apply.

On Thursday, officials from the central and the Tokyo Metropolitan Governments, as well as the local Olympic organizing committee, agreed to allow foreign athletes and staff from regions covered by entry restrictions to arrive in the nation and start preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games.