TO: U.S. Citizen English Teachers and Advisors in Japan
DATE: April 1, 2020
The U.S. Embassy has no higher priority than the protection and safety of U.S. citizens in Japan. While all U.S. government-sponsored exchange and teaching programs are suspended, we are aware that throughout the country, thousands of U.S. citizens are working as English teachers and advisors for both Japanese government-sponsored and private programs. As you know, authorities have confirmed that community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in Japan. This means that people in Japan have been infected with the virus, but how and when they became infected is unknown.
As English language teachers and advisors, you are often far from the main population centers and engage daily with many members of your community, including students, teachers, and administrators. Your work environments can vary widely, and many organizations and employers are taking differing approaches to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation. Many of you have contacted the Embassy and consulates to express concerns regarding your health and safety in the context of COVID-19. We take these concerns extremely seriously. While we cannot intercede between you and your employer regarding contractual obligations, we want to share with you State Department advice for U.S. citizens abroad, as well as explain some of the social distancing measures that we recommend taking.
The U.S. Department of State advises all U.S. citizens abroad to return to the United States as quickly as possible or be prepared to remain overseas for an indefinite period. From Japan, commercial flight options back to the United States continue to exist, though with significantly reduced capacity. We strongly recommend taking advantage of these commercial flights immediately unless you are prepared to remain in Japan indefinitely. Airline capacity reductions and travel restrictions can be implemented at any time. Japan, like countries worldwide, is denying entry to, or imposing strict quarantines on arriving travelers.
If you choose to remain in Japan, we strongly encourage you to follow all guidelines issued by the Government of Japan, local authorities, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). This includes social distancing to the maximum extent possible, including telework, avoiding crowded locations like trains and other public transportation, minimizing outings, and remaining home as much as possible. For example, staff at our Embassy and consulates have implemented telework protocols to reduce the number of people in the office each day. We have also closed community spaces to discourage gatherings. Mission staff have been advised to review their readiness for a crisis, which includes having 14 days of- 2- food and prescription medications at home and preparing a “go-bag” including passports and copies of vital documents such as birth and marriage certificates. We recommend all U.S. citizens in Japan do the same. Please check to ensure the validity of your passport and make an appointment to apply for a new passport immediately if you have less than six months’ validity remaining. The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Japan remain open and continue to provide all essential consular services to U.S. citizens.
Please keep informed regarding health and safety, including issues related to international travel. We strongly recommend you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows us to send Health Alerts and other safety information directly to your email inbox.
We provide regular updates on Twitter (@ACSTokyo). You can also email us at TokyoACS@state.gov or call us at 03-3224-5000. For the consulate nearest your location in Japan, please consult our website.
We would also like to draw your attention to other resources we recommend for U.S. citizens in Japan:
- The CDC has established a specialized website with information about COVID-19.
- The CDC also has a page with specific information about Japan.
- The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Japan maintain a COVID-19 page.
- The Government of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare posts information in
Japanese and English on its website.
- The Japan National Tourism Organization provides details on quarantines and entry
We hope you find this information of assistance.
Joseph M. Young
Chargé d’Affaires a.i.