It’s been four months since Japan enacted strict border control measures due to the novel coronavirus, leaving foreign residents who had left the country in a state of limbo. Now, the Japanese government has officially announced plans to allow all foreign residents with valid visas back in, provided they pass a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine for 14 days. Previously, these measures only applied to Japanese nationals.
While the announcement remains a bit vague, public broadcaster NHK has reported the government plans to lift the entry restrictions starting next month. An exact date has not been provided. Japan’s borders still remain largely closed to tourists, however, with travelers from over 140 countries being banned.
Two months ago, we spoke with several foreign residents of Japan who were not able to return to the country after leaving for work or personal reasons. At that time, the Immigration Services Agency said they would make exceptions for those who traveled for “exceptional circumstances”. This included attending a funeral or birth of a child.
This didn’t provide much reassurance as there was no guarantee residents wouldn’t be refused at the airport by immigration officers.
Officials have also stated they are preparing to expand Narita and other airports’ coronavirus testing capabilities to 10,000 people per day. All international arrivals are requested to avoid using public transportation to get to their final destination.