What We Know About Japan’s Limited Reopening

Border restrictions are being eased, but the only foreign visitors allowed in from June 10 will be those on group tours.

Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi at sunrise. (Photo: mantaphoto/iStock)

Though Japan has doubled its daily quota of visitor arrivals from 10,000 to 20,000, Tokyo’s most recent moves fall far short of a much-anticipated full reopening. Pre-flight testing is still required for incoming travelers, and these must be taken within 72 hours of departure. Places abroad are now classified according to a color-coded risk assessment system; on-arrival testing and mandatory quarantines have been dropped for all international arrivals from 98 “blue” countries and territories, regardless of their vaccination status. (Nations on the “blue” list include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.) Meanwhile, those from 99 “yellow” countries such as India and Vietnam can bypass testing and quarantine if they have had a booster shot and hold a valid vaccination certificate.

Japanese residents returning from places classified under the “red” category should expect three days of self-isolation either at home or in a designated facility (depending on whether they have an approved vaccination certificate). Foreign nationals who have traveled to any of 56 countries within the last two weeks — the list includes Estonia, Russia, Nigeria, and South Africa — are banned outright.

June 10 will see Japan reopening its borders to overseas visitors on package tours run by locally licensed travel agencies or other Japanese organizations. This was recently announced on the heels of a successful trial last month involving about 50 travelers from Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. Independent travelers may have to wait a few more months, if not longer, as no tentative date has been given for the resumption of general tourism.

The new entry rules come with a caveat, as most Southeast Asian travelers will be denied entry should their country be downgraded from the “blue” to “yellow” classification. Japan does not recognize Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine, which was heavily used for the rollouts in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. This means that visitors who have received two shots from Sinovac and a booster from accepted manufacturers like Pfizer or AstraZeneca are considered partly vaccinated.

Details of the latest border measures from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be seen here.

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