Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Tokyo (April 8, 2020)

Location: Japan
Date: April 8, 2020

State of Emergency in Japan

On April 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency regarding COVID-19 for seven prefectures – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka – for a period of one month until May 6. The prime minister outlined measures such as teleworking, social distancing, and e-learning to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, and he asked people to avoid closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. He said that public transportation, to include domestic aviation and rail services, will continue to operate and that supermarkets, drugstores, banks, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure will remain open and operational. The full text of the prime minister’s address on the emergency declaration, made under Article 32 of Japan’s special measures act for “Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response,” will be posted in English on the Kantei’s website.

Prefectural governments are expected to announce specific protective measures under the emergency declaration in the coming days. Please continue to monitor local media outlets and Japanese government announcements for up-to-date information on protective measures being taken in the area where you reside. Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike said she would announce measures for Tokyo on April 10. Below are sources of local COVID-19 information in English:

Suspension of Routine Passport and Citizenship Services

On April 2, 2020, the U.S Department of State suspended processing of routine passport and citizenship services for U.S. citizens overseas. As of April 8, 2020, in accordance with this worldwide directive, the Embassy and consulates in Japan have canceled all routine passport and citizenship appointments. Until further notice, we are only able to issue limited validity emergency passports.

Because of the State Department’s suspension of processing, we are currently unable to issue “Consular Reports of Birth Abroad” citizenship documents for infants and children. However, we can document the child’s citizenship with an emergency passport, and we strongly encourage families to apply for such documentation.

To request an appointment for an emergency passport, including for an infant or child who has not previously been documented as a U.S. citizen, please contact the Embassy or consulate nearest you for assistance. If you have previously applied for a passport or citizenship service, and are still awaiting receipt of your documents, you should expect significant delays receiving your passport.

Decrease in International Flights

Speaking at an April 6 State Department special briefing on “COVID-19: Updates on Health Impact and Assistance for American Citizens Abroad,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee shared this message with U.S. citizens overseas:

“… if you are an American overseas and you’re still on the fence about whether to come home or not, it’s time to get off that fence. Come home now or be ready to remain where you are. The Department of State always stands ready to assist our fellow citizens overseas, but we cannot guarantee that this worldwide repatriation effort will continue indefinitely. Some Americans are waiting to see how bad it’s going to get before making that call. I cannot stress this enough: Make that call now.”

Only about 10 percent of the pre-COVID-19 commercial flight capacity between Japan and the United States remains in operation. As of April 10, direct flights between the U.S. and Japan will only be available from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. Travelers coming from other parts of Japan to Tokyo for onward travel to the United States should also confirm that their connecting domestic air and/or rail service will operate as scheduled. Travelers currently in Japan seeking return flights to the United States are urged to consult with their air carriers on arrangements to depart immediately while commercial flights are still available. U.S. citizens who are not planning to return to the United States should be prepared to remain indefinitely in Japan. More generally, U.S. citizens who reside abroad should avoid all international travel.

At this time, Japanese authorities advise that passengers transiting Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports will still be allowed to proceed to their onward destinations in other countries, provided they do not attempt to clear immigration. Passengers will not be permitted to transit between airports or transfer from an international flight to a domestic flight.

The Japan National Tourism Organization maintains up-to-date information on screening and quarantine measures for travelers. It also operates a 24/7 visitor hotline, available in English. To call from Japan: 050-3816-2787; from overseas: +81-50-3816-2787.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also has a 24/7 hotline at +81-3-3595-2176 with English-speaking operators, and has a Q&A on the new measures.

All U.S. Mission Japan facilities remain open and staffed, with non-emergency employees actively teleworking. U.S. Mission Japan personnel continue to follow United States and Japanese government recommended practices promoting social distancing and minimizing non-essential travel.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel: The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19.

CDC Travel Notice for Japan: On March 21, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Warning (Avoid Nonessential Travel) for COVID-19 in Japan.

Actions to Take:

Assistance: