TOPWhen Will Japan Open Its Borders? And Other Covid Updates

When Will Japan Open Its Borders? And Other Covid Updates

The latest updates on the Covid situation in Japan, who can enter the country and more

By Lisandra Moor

It’s been just about two years since the Covid-19 pandemic more or less started in Japan. In the last year or so, Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures have been especially rigorous with state of emergencies. Although not as strict as lockdowns in France or Canada, for example, the SOEs did significant damage to local businesses in various industries. To say the least, the last 24 months have been a roller coaster of emotions. 

Since our last Covid update dates from April 2021, we thought we were due for a little catch-up on the viral topic.

What’s the Current Covid Situation in Japan?

While Europe and North America have returned to a so-called “normal” state of affairs, Covid numbers in Japan are low (in perspective) but not insignificant. As of April 14, Japan has 564,018 active cases with the latest daily average estimated at 48,943 according to Japan Covid-19 Coronavirus Tracker. The prefectures with the most cases are Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa.

In mid-March, Tokyo’s last state of emergency was lifted. For the first time in months, restaurants and bars could return to normal business hours and alcohol-serving establishments could keep their cocktail menus on the table past 8pm.

But just this week The Japan Times reported that experts are concerned about another wave of infections after Okinawa numbers showed a spike in cases and a hospital bed occupancy rate of 43 percent. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, however, said to NHK, “the number of new coronavirus infections is on an upward trend but there is no need for quasi-emergency restrictions at this point.”

On the topic of vaccines, according to Our World Data Japan’s vaccination rate is at a steady 80.2 percent. However, only 44 percent of the population has received a booster (or third dose). In early April, the Japanese government did hint at considering approving a second booster shot though it is nowhere near confirmed.

When Will I Be Able to Visit Japan?

There is currently no clear answer to this question.

It is frustrating to think Japan is still reluctant to relax its borders and welcome tourists while South Korea, for example, reopened on April 1. The main factor behind this decision is simply that the Japanese government is expecting Covid cases to surge. From March 1, 2022, the Japanese government did, however, resume the issue of student and certain work visas (what Japan considers “long-term stay” visas) provided applicants abide by a strict list of requirements. In other words, you can enter Japan if your purpose is not touristic. See this page for details.

In regards to students finally being allowed back into the country after one year in limbo, while many did manage to get into Japan in time for the new school year, the country has a long way to go to recover from the damage to its reputation among international students.

To the joy of many members of the international community, earlier this week the government announced parents of foreign residents would be allowed to visit.

How Can I Stay Updated?

If you are a resident of Japan, it’s important to not only keep up with nationwide updates but also know how your city is managing Covid cases.

For nationwide statistics, NHK and NHK World offer both Japanese and English numbers updated several times a day. For Covid information in other languages, Japan Covid-19 Coronavirus Tracker is a comparable source, built and maintained by a group of Japan-based contributors. 

For local updates, consider checking in with your municipality. Tokyo and cities report weekly on Covid cases via Line, dedicated Twitter accounts, or email newsletters. For readers living in Tokyo’s 23 wards, you can check this website for local statistics. The biggest downside of local updates is that most will only be available in Japanese, though many municipalities offer some information in English.

For international readers, since travel and immigration policies can vary widely from country to country, you can get information specific to your country via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and Japanese embassies and consulates in your home country.

Read About Covid in Japan

Over the last 24 months, we’ve covered the pandemic in a myriad of ways on the Tokyo Weekender website. Below is a list of articles with information still relevant to the Covid situation in 2022.

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