Could Japan Finally Reopen to Travelers Soon?

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Could Japan Finally Reopen to Travelers Soon?

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Over in Europe, almost every country has been welcoming back tourists for months – and many have dropped COVID-19 entry requirements altogether. Even Australia and New Zealand are both open for tourism. International travel is back in full swing for 2022 … and then there’s Japan.

For more than two years, Japan has banned nearly all foreign travelers from entering with no concrete signs of that changing – until now. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference in London this week that Japan will begin to ease its border controls in June, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News.

While he didn’t specify what Japan’s new travel policies might look like, Kishida said border controls would be lifted “in stages.” Eventually, Kishida envisions Japan’s entry requirements will be in line with other major G-7 countries like the U.S., Germany, Canada, France, and Italy – all of which allow fully vaccinated tourists, though some also allow entry simply with a recent negative COVID-19 test.
 

japan travel restrictions 

To be clear, this is no slam dunk that Japan will throw its borders wide open to tourists next month. Japan’s phased reopening could require travelers to quarantine upon arrival on top of strict vaccination and testing requirements, for example. And Kishida is also quoted by Reuters saying only that Japan will “review” border control policies in June, shedding some doubt on the timeline.

Still, it’s a long-awaited signal that Japan is planning to reopen to foreign visitors for the first time in more than two years.

As other marquee travel destinations have reopened to travel over the last year, Japan’s strict travel ban has remained in place, stymieing travelers aiming to make a trip to Tokyo. Even as other major Asian tourist magnets like Singapore and Thailand opened their borders (and recently even dropped testing or quarantine requirements for entry, too), Japan’s borders remained mostly locked down.

Read our country-by-country guide to international travel restrictions!

Aside from the likes of China and Taiwan, no country has taken a stricter approach to international travel through the pandemic. Risk tolerance for the virus is low in Japan, while acceptance of public health measures to keep COVID-19 at bay remains high. That’s why Japan has only allowed a minimal amount of foreign visitors: 10,000 per day, but only workers and students – not leisure travelers.

One problem travelers may face? Getting to Tokyo in the first place. Airlines are still operating just a fraction of their usual transpacific flights. And with carriers planning to go all-out on Europe over the summer, it may be too late for airlines to shift more planes to head over to the likes of Tokyo-Haneda (HND) or Tokyo-Narita (NRT) instead.
 

Travel resurgence 

Check out our guide on the best ways to get to Japan using points and miles!

 

Bottom Line

It’s no sure thing just yet, but this is huge.

For more than a year, we’ve waited for a clear sign that Japan would reopen to international travelers … and we just got it. The timeline is still up in the air, as are the specifics of what requirements may remain in place to enter Japan once it opens. Proof of vaccination? A negative COVID-19 test? A brief quarantine upon arrival, or all of the above?

Regardless, this is exciting. We’re already dreaming of fresh sushi.
 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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