Date: April 9, 2021
COVID-19 Numbers on the Rise
COVID-19 numbers in many parts of Japan are rebounding, causing the national and some prefectural governments to announce new infection mitigation measures. Osaka and Hyogo prefectures recently received authorization from the Government of Japan to place specific municipalities under a medical emergency status, which allows authorities to fine restaurants and bars that do not comply with closure orders. This is in response to record numbers of COVID-19 cases and rapidly diminishing hospital capacity in these prefectures.
Government and media sources also report that similar measures will go into effect beginning Monday, April 12 for Tokyo, Okinawa and Kyoto. Restaurants and other nightlife establishments will be asked to close by 8 p.m. with non-compliance punishable by fine under recently enacted Special Measures legislation. In many parts of the Japan, prefectural authorities are again requesting citizens to refrain from non-essential travel across prefectures.
In the Kansai region, case numbers are approaching or exceeding their previous peaks set in January. Osaka issued a “medical state of emergency,” indicating that the medical system is severely stressed and that beds for critical care patients are becoming limited. Hyogo prefecture also reports high COVID hospital occupancy rates and limited additional beds.
Okinawa has also seen a sustained increase in COVID-19 cases, with the new infection rate per 100,000 the second highest in Japan over the last two weeks. The Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) instituted emergency measures on March 29. For the full statement and the entirety of measures from OPG in Japanese, please click here. The official English-language translation from OPG is here. A quasi-state of emergency could also take effect on April 12 and we expect the OPG to make an official announcement this weekend.
The prevalence of new COVID-19 strains is also increasing around the country. The Government of Japan continues to urge residents to take all possible precautions against the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing, mask wearing, and avoiding crowded areas. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to comply with all local and national COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The U.S. Embassy and consulates are open for routine services, but appointment availability remains limited. To schedule an appointment, visit our website for instructions.
U.S. Mission Japan personnel continue to follow practices recommended by the U.S. and Japanese Governments, including social distancing and mask wearing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. United States Forces Japan bases have instituted a number of restrictions based on local conditions in response to their declared Public Health Emergency. Many restrictions are specific to individual bases or areas. For more information, please contact base command officials.
COVID-19 Vaccination Updates in Japan
The Japanese government continues to vaccinate front-line medical personnel. Minister Kono announced that vaccinations of senior citizens will start on April 12. The Japanese government published an English language website about the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, NHK published English language information on the vaccine rollout and inoculation process on their website. Municipalities will provide the vaccine with the guidance of the central government. U.S. citizens are urged to review carefully the available information, and monitor news for further updates. For assistance, please contact your municipal government offices. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has also established a multilingual telephone hotline: 0120-565653. English is available from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
COVID-19 Testing for Travel to the United States
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, beginning January 26, 2021, all air travelers to the United States are required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to boarding their flight. U.S. citizens are subject to this rule. More information is available on the CDC website. Any traveler, including U.S. citizens, who does not show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 will not be permitted to board their flight. A list of some COVID-19 testing facilities can be found on the Embassy website. This list is not comprehensive.
Continued Restrictions for Travel to Japan
The Government of Japan continues to enforce strict travel regulations that bar most new foreigners from entering into Japan. Foreign tourists and non-resident foreign business travelers remain prohibited from entering Japan. Japanese citizens and foreign residents with a reentry permit are generally allowed to reenter Japan but must comply with strict pre- and post- travel testing requirements and self-quarantine upon arrival. Regardless of the international point of origin, all travelers entering Japan remain subject to a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival and are prohibited from using public transportation to include domestic flights, taxis, and rail. Travelers arriving from certain areas, or without proof of pre-departure COVID-19 testing, may be required to quarantine for a period of time in a government-designated location.
Travelers seeking to transit Japan en route to onward international destinations may continue to do so without quarantine as long as the transit occurs within the same airport.
For information on Japan’s updated travel restrictions, please see these websites:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Phased Measures for Resuming Cross-Border Travel
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Application for Visa for Foreign Nationals Eligible for Phase Measures toward Resuming Cross-Border Travel
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Border Enforcement Measures to Prevent the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Ministry of Justice: Information Related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Immigration Service Agency
The U.S. Embassy strongly urges any U.S. citizens considering travel to Japan to review carefully the information available from the Government of Japan.
Please note: These complex regulations are subject to change with little notice. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to intervene on behalf of travelers denied boarding at their point of embarkation or denied entry upon arrival to Japan is extremely limited, and those travelers denied entry at Japanese ports of entry will likely be immediately reboarded on flights back to the United States.
For questions regarding the government of Japan’s travel restrictions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides contact information in Section Five of this website.
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- U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Telephone: 03-3224-5000, After-Hours: 03-3224-5000
- U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
- U.S. Consulate Nagoya
- U.S. Consulate Fukuoka
- U.S. Consulate General Sapporo
- U.S. Consulate General Naha
- State Department – Consular Affairs 888-407-4747