Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Tokyo (May 22, 2020)

Location: Japan
Date: May 22, 2020

State of Emergency in Japan

On May 21, Prime Minister Abe lifted the state of emergency for Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo, which now join the list of Japan’s 42 prefectures where the national state of emergency has been lifted. However, as many prefectures where the state of emergency has been lifted continue to request restricted hours and/or closures at public venues, these local governments have also established metrics to reinstitute stay-at-home orders should significant second-wave infections occur. A state of emergency remains in place for five prefectures: Hokkaido, Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo, and Kanagawa. The Japanese Government will reportedly review the states of emergency there on/about May 25.

Despite the partial lifting of the state of emergency, the Prime Minster has reiterated his call for citizens to reduce people-to-people contact, with a focus on avoiding the “three Cs:” closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. He also asked that people continue to refrain from all non-essential prefectural border crossings.

Prefectural governors and local officials have also announced measures that vary by prefecture. 

The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to comply with the Prime Minister’s guidelines as well as all measures in their locality.

U.S. Mission Japan personnel continue to follow practices recommended by the U.S. and Japanese Governments for promoting social distancing and minimizing non-essential travel. U.S. Mission Japan staff have also been advised to avoid public transportation during peak hours, and to follow Government of Japan guidance to refrain from crossing prefectural borders unless absolutely necessary.

United States Forces Japan (USFJ) continues to enforce its Health Protection Condition measures consistent with its Public Health Emergency currently set to expire on June 14, 2020.

Reduction in International Flights

International flights are currently available in Japan, but service has been drastically reduced. Only five percent of pre-COVID capacity between Japan and the United States (including Guam) remains in service. Direct flights between the United States and Japan are currently only available from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States should make arrangements to do so via commercial air immediately unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  The U.S. government does not anticipate staging repatriation flights in Japan. U.S. citizens who reside abroad should avoid all international travel. As a reminder, non-Japanese citizens who leave Japan, even U.S. citizen legal residents, will not be able to return under current restrictions.  

Suspension of Routine Passport, Citizenship, and Visa Services

The U.S. Department of State has suspended processing of routine passport, citizenship, and visa services. Until further notice, we are only able to issue limited validity emergency passports and emergency visas. Because of this suspension, we are unable to issue Consular Reports of Birth Abroad for infants and children. However, we can document the child’s citizenship with an emergency passport and accept Consular Report of Birth Abroad applications for later issuance. We strongly encourage families to apply for such documentation. To request an appointment for an emergency passport, please contact the Embassy or consulate nearest you for assistance.

Resources in Japan

Below are sources of local COVID-19 information in English.  This list is not exhaustive:

U.S. citizens should closely monitor trusted local news sources and local authorities’ communications for updates and information.

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, have 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.

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: