Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Tokyo (August 5, 2020)

Location: Japan
Date: August 5, 2020

State of COVID-19 Measures in Japan

The U.S. Embassy and consulates continue to monitor closely the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan. Case numbers in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Okinawa, and in other areas across Japan have risen significantly in the past two weeks, and many prefectural officials are requesting residents comply with specific mitigation efforts centered around refraining from visiting nightlife establishments and other non-essential outings and travel.

In Okinawa, on July 31 Governor Tamaki implemented a state of emergency and requested that residents avoid non-essential outings. He also urged residents to refrain from travel to mainland Japan and asked that travelers from outside Okinawa carefully consider whether they should travel to the islands.

In Hokkaido, on July 27 Governor Suzuki asked residents to carefully consider the necessity of travel outside of Hokkaido.

In Kyushu, some local governors including those in Miyazaki, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto have issued local guidelines or updated alert levels.

In Tokyo, Governor Koike continues to urge residents to avoid restaurants and other service establishments that lack proper infection-control and social distancing measures and has asked bars and restaurants to limit their hours. She also requests that Tokyo residents refrain from crossing prefectural borders unless necessary. More information on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s recommendations can found online here.

In the Kansai area, including Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, COVID-19 cases have steadily increased. New cases have mainly occurred in entertainment establishments, prompting Osaka Governor Yoshima to urge the public to limit gatherings to no more than 5 people and to increase teleworking arrangements wherever possible. In addition, bars and restaurants in the south Osaka area near Namba Station have been asked to close by 20:00 from August 6 to 20. The recent incidence of COVID infection has primarily occurred among a younger demographic than was impacted earlier in the pandemic.

In Nagoya, the prefectural government raised its COVID-19 alert level to “orange” – the third highest of four levels – on July 30 in response to a sharp increase in infections. The prefecture urges residents to avoid non-essential travel, especially to Tokyo, and to avoid the so-called “three Cs – crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined spaces. Most of the individuals diagnosed have been in their 20s or 30s and are believed to have contracted the virus at one of the city’s nightlife establishments. Aichi Prefecture is asking members of that demographic to exercise particular caution and has formally requested bars and other alcohol-serving establishments in entertainment districts to close by 20:00 for a 20-day period starting August 5.

In advance of the upcoming Obon summer holiday period, the Government of Japan is asking those with travel plans to be cautious to avoid spreading the virus in rural areas. Press reports indicate that the government may issue advice to individuals traveling to their hometowns later in the week. Additionally, many prefectural officials are requesting that people reconsider travel to their hometowns out of concern for hospital capacity. Some officials, including those in prefectures like Akita and Nagasaki, are also requesting that residents refrain from travel to high infection areas like Tokyo and Osaka.

U.S. citizens in Japan are strongly urged to comply with all measures issued by central and local government authorities, and to monitor carefully local media for updates on infection rates and mitigation efforts in their area. Several U.S. Forces Japan installations have reinstituted stringent health protection measures to protect both their personnel and local populations.

International Travel and Reentry of Residents

International travel restrictions previously instituted by the Government of Japan largely remain in place. U.S. citizens, including those with resident status in Japan, generally remain prohibited from entering the country under the current travel restrictions.

The Government of Japan, however, updated these travel restrictions on July 22. U.S. citizens resident in Japan who returned to the United States before the implementation of the restrictions on April 3, and who have a valid reentry permit, may be able to return to Japan after August 5. The Government of Japan published information regarding exemptions to its entry restrictions and contact information for the Immigration authorities, which is available here. The Ministry of Justice also maintains a website.

U.S. citizens residing in Japan should carefully review the government’s restrictions before embarking on international travel. Individuals who believe their travel may fall under the Government of Japan’s published exemptions should carry documentation about their purpose of travel with them and consult with immigration officers regarding reentry to Japan prior to departing the country.

The U.S. Embassy is aware that this is a matter of immediate concern for many U.S. citizens resident in Japan who may need to take urgent trips or who may be stuck outside of the country. We continue to engage with the Government of Japan on the issue and will provide any updates as soon as they are available.

Routine Passport, Citizenship, and Visa Service Limitations

The U.S. Department of State is beginning to resume a very limited number of routine visa and passport services. Routine appointments remain suspended in Tokyo, but some appointments are available at our consulates. For specific information please check our website for visas and American Citizen Services.

Effective immediately, online payment for mail-in adult U.S. passport renewal is available in Japan. For information, please see our website.

U.S. citizens and visa applicants who are granted appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or any U.S. consulate in Japan must wear masks upon entering the premises and are prohibited from entering these facilities if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to anyone known to have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.

Resources in Japan

Japanese immigration officials have extended the period of application for certain types of visa extensions and residency applications; increased the waiting time for decisions in certain cases; extended visa validity for visitors whose period of stay expired in March through July; and announced new measures to reduce congestion in waiting rooms. More information can be found online here.

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.

The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia Medical Information Center are operating a hotline to assist foreign nationals in Japan with questions about COVID-19. It is available from 10:00 to 17:00, and can be reached at 03-6233-9266. More information can be found here.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched a multilingual call center on COVID-19 for foreign residents. They can be reached by phone from 10:00 to 17:00, Monday through Friday, at 0120-296-004. Callers should note that the initial recording is in Japanese, but if you hold the line you can be assisted in English.

The Government of Japan launched a Foreign Resident Support Center, located at: Yotsuya Tower 13/F, 1-6-1 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 106-0004. The center is open from 9:00 to 5:00 on weekdays, and provides consultations in several languages, including English. Eight organizations participate in the center, including the Immigration Services Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Tokyo Labor Bureau.

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: