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Q&A: Japan's coronavirus-related travel restrictions

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The MOFA, Motegi precisely, is also rather dismissive when asked about this double standard.

https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/kaiken/kaiken4e_000834.html

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I guess it’s a step in the right direction. However, by Japan’s own testing standards, it would be impossible to receive negative test results 72 hrs prior to travel. It seems that this is an intentional way to restrict those who wish to return.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Thanks for the info.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@bububu4

yes, you are absolutely right, and I would suggest that only countries who test in the low thousands/day can realistically return results in 72 hours. As you say, it's just cynical way to stop foreign nationals returning.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

For anyone attempting to do this, for the Covid test 72 hrs prior to departure do note that certain types of tests are not allowed in order to gain entry, and some people have already been denied entry because the type of test they had was unapproved by Japan immigration (even though the test said negative).

Only RT-PCR, LAMP, and CLEIA are allowed (and only nose and saliva, not a throat swab), and all docs must be in English.

So do proper reasearch on the MOFA website before trying to travel to know what tests are specifically allowed, and then be sure you can actually get one of the approved tests (and results) where you are within 72 hrs.

Good luck. On top of procuring an air ticket, it all sounds expensive, annoying, and difficult.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

Although the government has now relaxed restrictions on foreign residents from Sept 1, the country's expatriate community has been outraged by measures that discriminate against them compared to Japanese nationals and have prevented them from traveling to their native countries. The procedures for re-entry have also been criticized as being too complicated.

the expatriate community is right

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Would someone care to explain how this policy is not discriminatory?

20 ( +21 / -1 )

GrungeHamster,

It seems designed to make re-entry theoretically possible, but functionally impossible from a logistical and/or financial perspective.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

My biggest concern is that even I follow the whole procedure that Japan requires, the immigration officer at Narita or Haneda airport will deny my entry.

Like what Divinda said:

for the Covid test 72 hrs prior to departure do note that certain types of tests are not allowed in order to gain entry, and some people have already been denied entry because the type of test they had was unapproved by Japan immigration (even though the test said negative).

If that is true, that is a big problem and too risky.

My company wants to resume my overseas business trips, but my business trips are always just for 5 days. And I am always very busy during these 5 days.

It is impossible for me to manage a PCR Test incl. result 72 hours in advance.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In other words, don't bother coming back.

As some of you have said above, all the loopholes and barriers have been set up to make Japan look as if they're doing something when, in reality, they're still trying to minimize the number of residents returning. Taking us for fools. In the meanwhile, Japanese tourists are free to come to my country as they please. I hope the tourists don't come back when this pandemic is over. There are more welcoming places to visit.

And it's a shame Vietnam and Taiwan are going to expose themselves even more to the virus by reopening links with Japan.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Procedure looks pretty standard to me, unless it isn't?

Arent other countries have the same/comparable control measures?

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

I guess it’s a step in the right direction. However, by Japan’s own testing standards, it would be impossible to receive negative test results 72 hrs prior to travel. It seems that this is an intentional way to restrict those who wish to return.

That is a good point there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo airports are using tests that produce results in an hour, isn't that true?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I guess the point of a double test is to make sure foreigners are not infected by Japanese while on a plane who have to be tested only once?

But then again, everyone gets tested upon arrival so what's the point of the 72-hours pre-flight test?

I'm puzzled.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is all pure discrimination and means, effectively, that the re-entry ban is still in place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Guess they've taken a look at Europe with its lackadaisical approach to travel and their air corridors and seen the negative results. Clever move I'd say to keep the virus contained. We all want the same thing, to be virus free

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Would someone care to explain how this policy is not discriminatory?

TIJ. Stop living in denial...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Foreign residents leaving Japan on or after Sept. 1 must receive a "receipt for request of re-entry" from the Immigration Services Agency before departure. This can be obtained by sending an email to the ISA with the required information. Details including the ISA email address can be found here.

Once the foreign residents know when they will fly back to Japan, they must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their departure time at a medical institution and have the doctor sign a certificate saying the results were negative.

How come Japanese citizens don't have to do this? They can get corona just like foreigners can.

Would someone care to explain how this policy is not discriminatory?

No one can, because it is discriminatory.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Clever move I'd say to keep the virus contained. 

Love to know what you think is so clever about it?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

All looks fairly simple if you actually read the website and what you need to provide.

If you really want to travel and and are happy to pay for a Private Test wherever you are visiting, its really not going to take up much time at all.

Don't agree with the discrimination at all for residents but it's better than being stopped from travelling at all, and if you follow the rules then I really don't see any problems with gaining re-entry.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Once the foreign residents know when they will fly back to Japan, they must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their departure time at a medical institution and have the doctor sign a certificate saying the results were negative.

> How come Japanese citizens don't have to do this? They can get corona just like foreigners can.

Because they can't be denied entry even if they have the virus

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Serrano’s point is spot on. I travel back and forth overseas, so every time you leave Japan, you’ll need to get their blessing. I am currently trying to confirm if there is a possibility that I would be denied exit if they don’t like my reason for traveling overseas.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is all smoke and mirrors to fool the world in thinking they are no longer discriminating against foreign residents, when in fact these totally unnecessary regulations make it impossible for the majority to re-enter Japan.

They might as well put up a sign at the border that says ‘Foreigners piss off’. Or similar.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

This information is much appreciated. So when you return to Japan and get a PCR test at the airport do you have to wait at the airport for the results?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why is everyone fixed so strongly on the discrimination point?

I don't see any discrimination in that.

These are rules which are set by the japanese governments to foreigners, to prevent an increase in the Corona cases in Japan.

Of course I agree with you, that these rules are very strong and in some personal circumstances probably impossible to fulfill.

But like The Resident said

it's better than being stopped from travelling at all

I don't feel discriminated by these rules.

-19 ( +3 / -22 )

The only way to get a test result in 48h is to go through a private clinic (the average cost in my country is 120€). Even then, they won't take responsibility in case of delay.

Plus, most test centers are closed on weekends... That means we could only fly back on Wednesday evening (in optimal conditions)/Thursday/Friday.

I would want to take a private test upon arrival in Europe before I meet my family.

If I had a 2 weeks holidays, 1 week would be gone for testing and flying on weekdays would substantially shorten my time (I'd have 4 free days out of 14).

I hope they can speed up the testing process...

Also, if we can't take public transports in Japan, how are we expected to go home?

Is it ok to rent a car at the airport or have a friend pick me up (even if they don't live with me?)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Can’t wait to see how this plays out...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I understand that they have these rules to limit or control the number of tourists but they are very discriminatory to residents and especially PR as they have no place to go if they test positive, after all they reside in Japan, have health insurance in Japan and in many cases have family or spouses who are Japanese. When they get sent back to a foreign country or even their native country one wonders who will pay their hospital bills as they have no coverage

9 ( +9 / -0 )

But then again, everyone gets tested upon arrival so what's the point of the 72-hours pre-flight test?

I'm puzzled.

Its right there in the article but answer should be obvious even if it's not

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

After reading the requirements at the Ministry of Justice's homepage with google translate in English it seems reasonable and I am planning to visit my family in the States in October.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Like the government cares about what a bunch of foreigners think. Foreigners do not have a vote...

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Also, if we can't take public transports in Japan, how are we expected to go home?

Get a friend to pick you up at the airport, or hire a car service. They have special car hire services for covid 19. If you live far from an international airport, you may need to check further and may end up staying at a hotel near the airport. I live in Tokyo so Narita and Haneda are within 1-2 hours driving distance. When my son returned from the US in March I had to rent a car to pick him up as even though he has a Japanese passport he was not supposed to take public transport. His friend also flew back but is from another prefecture and his parents had to make a very long drive to pick him up. In essence, you will not be able to take a connecting domestic flight or train until after you quarantine at a hotel near the airport. I think it will work out. I know of an older American guy who flew back from Boston last month after visiting an ill family member and he had to quarantine at a hotel near Narita before flying on to Okinawa. He was able to telework from the hotel.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don't feel discriminated by these rules.

That's because you're Japanese Monty.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Unlike Japanese nationals, however, foreign residents must go through certain procedures before re-entry.

This seems like discrimination to me. Suppose I, a Permanent Resident and my wife and kids, Japanese, have been traveling together. Yet, when we return, I have to go through different procedures, even though we've been staying together. Definitely discrimination.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

And here you have it in a nutshell. The racist thinking that one race is immune and others are not.

Japanese need to take test and self isolate also, probably because the government doesn't think they're immune.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I’m lucky I didn’t visit my mother a few months ago when she had chemotherapy. Luckily she has recovered. I would of been left in limbo.

My relative from India is covid19 positive and in isolation in NZ. He tested negative in India before boarding. At Auckland airport he tested positive and was separated from his family in govt isolation. His wife and children tested negative. A couple of days later she tested positive. She is with her husband but they are separated from children. Apparently the infection happened on the plane. Not sure if you can suddenly test positive on a 12 hour flight.

I think there should be a 72 hr isolation period before flight. Then 2 different tests. On arrival, 72hr isolation with 2 tests. Then release and 2 weeks self isolation.

(of course US military can just get off the plane or ship and go to a bar for a welcome drink.)

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

It may be time for some who are 100% committed to Japan forever to just get nationality and throw away your other passport. Pretty easy to become Nihonjin if you currently have PR based on what I heard.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327551.pdf

I feel compelled to post the link above which is the English Text - no need for a Google Translate. It's very clear, who you email before departure and what kind of test will satisfy immigration here

As I said above - yes I think it is discrimination for those who are residents here, but nonetheless, a quick read of this and what you have to should make you realise that we are hardly being made to jump through hoops!

Seem like a lot of people here just want to find excuses to slag Japan off for the sake of it now - really getting picky. If you really have to / want to travel then I'm sure you can stretch to the price of a private PCR test, results in most countries can be procured in less than 6 hours. The private transportation home applies equally to Japanese as does the 14 day quarantine.

I'll say again - It's better than not being allowed re-entry at all.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

reckless:

It may be time for some who are 100% committed to Japan forever to just get nationality and throw away your other passport. Pretty easy to become Nihonjin if you currently have PR based on what I heard.

We don't have the luxury of keeping our other nationality if we choose to naturalize. Hell will freeze over before I give up my current passport. Not all of us are Osaka Naomi.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Hell will freeze over before I give up my current passport.

Me too Pukey2.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Duel passports please.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@TheResident. You are being wilfully disingenuous. In many countries it is impossible to get tested if you are asymptomatic, even if you did find a place nearby that would test you they cannot guarantee you would get the results before your flight. The certification format, in English, is a barrier for many too. I’ve checked for the U.K., these tests are run by private clinics and are mostly done by post. Personal attendance appointments are limited and all seem to be in London and very expensive. No guarantee of when you get the results.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Luddite: At what point of my post did you miss where I said ''If you really have to / want to travel'' To call me 'disingenuous' is at best insulting. With careful planning it is far from impossible to obtain the required paperwork. I too have done my research.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Tatemae" should be a degree course in universities here in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@TheResident. Yes, wilfully disingenuous. Careful planning cannot magically make an appropriate testing service available in your area, nor can it guarantee the result within the narrow time period required. Canadians in British Colombia cannot get tested if they are asymptomatic, not even at private clinics. How can your ‘careful planning’ resolve that problem? I can give numerous other examples from many countries. Denying this reality, these facts, doesn’t make the problems go away.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Luddite: https://travelsafeclinic.ca/covid-19-testing/

Appears to be in Vancouver. Will test for Asymptomatic cases. As I said - not that hard with prep and planning.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I am being really upset by all this discriminatory entry ban and now hurdles to leave and come back here.

Getting the proof of test in the right format, though it should be easy, might be the hardest part as many laboratories overseas have their own way to do with their own certificates delivered by email, but certainly can adapt and fill the Japanese certificate.

The good point in the story is that some countries / airlines now cooperate with laboratories for delivering tests and results within 72hrs of departure. It is the case in France . That may become a global standard.

Anyway, I do not plan to leave before next winter and by the time, I am quite sure it will be enough stories to share the hurdles and how things do concretely work, with the immigration here and overseas.

Good luck to the ones who will try traveling !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ask foreigners to pay hefty taxes but put red tapes when the time comes to fly out / re-enter. Foreigners have to pay for the tests and go through all the hassles but Japanese people don't have to. The taxes are paid by the foreigners for the welfare of Japanese people! With 25% of the population already above 65 years of age, the country needs foreigners in the long run to support the economy. Discrimination has been there all the time and now it shows out blatantly. If you do not have a Japanese passport, but still intend to stay here, remember you have no value and security - is the message.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@didou - exactly. First person I know on the new terms goes out on the 18th. If goes ok with him, I shall plan for shortly after that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@drlucifer

"Tatemae" should be a degree course in universities here in Japan.

Yup. Japan Inc. surely has shown its honne this year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What happens when you flight back is later than planned and the arrival date is different from the one on your application?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The inability of foreign residents who possess a temporary visa to comprehend their status as non-citizens, which continually asserts the 'I pay taxes' trope betrays either a gross ignorance or a very queer sense of entitlement. The ban of foreigners is to prevent the spread of SARSCoV-2, not an intentional stricture to inconvenience foreign residents, ignoring their strangely asserted right to be treated as a native citizen because they 'pay taxes'. Check out the policies of your homeland regarding immigrant labor. An individual actual intone 'heavy taxes' which is a misnomer in light of the tax burdens in foreign countries. The continual moaning about discrimination is silly, as if it defines some official manner of racist behavior. It is not discriminatory it is categorical. Whatever the profession or trade of most foreigners, for the most it is insignificant to the greater good and its contributions in terms of tax revenues mostly of no great import. The need for your hefty tax contributions apparently doesn't impact the treasury to a degree you are seen as 'essential' to the economy because you are not. The point is to prevent the spread of SARSCoV-2 and the density of the compaintants is awe inspiring. All the blather about demographics and the need for the revenue stream by foreign workers cites naught as actual data or statistics. The need for workers is concentrated on nurses, laborers and restaurant personnel. Doubtful most who post are laborers or restaurant personnel and from the tenor of remarks nurses from Asia. 1.3 million foreign workers are mostly from Asia, not the so-called West or Occident. Many blue collar foreign workers are on trainee visas, those folks are rarely 'westerners'. The need for foreign workers is greatest in convenience stores, construction, eldercare - mostly 'low-level' employment that is not centered on fleecing foreigners with strenuous tax burdens, but a need for employees in specific services. You want to go wash dishes in a chain restaurant or run a cash register & stock shelves in a convenience store or change diapers on 90 year olds? Doubtful that is your employ. Stow it and put a cap on the arrogant sense of entitlement.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The inability of foreign residents who possess a temporary visa to comprehend their status as non-citizens

Hey Richard, what about those of us who are PERMANENT Residents (as in, our visa is not temporary, it is forever and never needs renewal), who also own businesses and property in Japan, and who also have Japanese citizens for family? We need to stay silent when such policies affect our lives, jobs, and family?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This doesn't surprise me at all..after decades of being here I got use to be discriminated against its a part of daily life..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When arriving at Narita airport from abroad, does anybody know how much the test costs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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