Culture

The Coronavirus Situation in Japan

Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Japan so far.

By 8 min read

Update: Japan will allow foreign nationals with residence status reentry into the country if they left before the April 3 travel ban was instated (see below).
On January 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 or the coronavirus a global emergency. To date, the total number of confirmed infected worldwide has surpassed 6,000,000 and 370,000 deaths. The government of Japan has begun strict measures to curb the virus from spreading further.

Although the nationwide state of emergency has been lifted as of May 26, a possible resurgence of coronavirus infections may occur. Most prefectures are operating normally, except for Tokyo, which planned to return to normalcy in phases.

On June 19, Tokyo lifted all restrictions on businesses “despite the capital still recording double-digit daily new infections.” Moreover, people living in Japan are no longer being asked to refrain from crossing prefectural borders.

The Japan National Tourism Organization has a multilingual coronavirus hotline for those who think they may be affected. Support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean 24 hours a day.

If you’re living in Japan or planning to visit, you may be wondering how safe it is. What can you do to protect yourself? What events have been affected? Will the virus impact travel plans outside of Japan and greater Asia?

Here is the most up-to-date run-down we can give. It is worth noting, however, that because this is a new and fast-spreading virus, what we know now could change in the future.

What’s Japan’s infection rate?

As of July 6, more than 19,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Japan. This does not include the 712 confirmed cases that were found on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship

In Japan, there are more than 900 confirmed deaths. By comparison, the total number of confirmed deaths in the United States is more than 129,000.

What is Japan’s re-entry ban?

87 nations now on Japan’s no-entry list.

As reported by The Asahi Shimbun, it was confirmed in late March that one in four coronavirus infections in Japan were from abroad. From April 03, a total of 73 nations and regions, including the U.S., China, and South Korea, were designated as Level 3 on Japan’s Infectious Disease Warning Scale. By May 27, more than 100 countries and territories are listed.

Foreign travelers who have visited any of these countries within 14 days of arriving in Japan will be denied entry.

July 30 Update

From August 5, Japan will allow foreign nationals with residence status reentry into the country if they left before the April 3 travel ban was instated. Foreign residents who left after, or are currently planning to leave the country, are not included. Non-Japanese residents must provide proof in the form of a “Certificate of Testing for COVID-19” conducted 72 hours before their flight. They must also collect documents confirming their re-entry permission from their local Japanese Embassy.

Any single test of the following will suffice:

  • Real-time RT-PCR
  • RT- LAMP test
  • Antigen test (CLEIA)

Other requirements include a 14-day inspection of the resident’s health condition before entering Japan and self-isolation upon arrival. You must also agree to a government-sponsored tracking app installed on your smartphone. The government has stated its intentions to enforce stricter entry procedures for all residents from September 1.

One in four coronavirus infections in Japan were from abroad.

Level 3 nations and regions

[Asia-Pacific]

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Bangladesh
  • Brunei
  • China (including Hong Kong and Macau)
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

[North America]

  • The United States
  • Canada

[Central and South America]

  • Argentina
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Saint Kitts
  • Nevis
  • Uruguay

[Europe]

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tajikistan
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City

[Middle East]

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Israel
  • Iran
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates

[Africa]

  • Cabo Verde
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • South Africa

Does my visa status matter?

As of May 27, all permanent residents, or spouses and children of permanent residents, or spouses and children of Japanese nationals, and long-term resident visa holders may be allowed re-entry if they are leaving the country under special circumstances.

On June 14, immigration authorities released a PDF outlying possible exceptions that will allow foreign residents to return to Japan while the entry-ban is still in place. While these conditions do not guarantee you re-entry in Japan, authorities will consider your circumstances. Likewise, some people have reported being able to re-enter after contacting immigration authorities (or their country’s embassy).

Foreigners who left BEFORE the entry ban

Update July 30: From August 5, Japan will allow foreign nationals with residence status reentry into the country if they left before the travel ban was instated (see above).

  • My family is staying in Japan, and we have become separated.
  • I departed from Japan with my child, who is enrolled in a Japanese educational institution, but my child is unable to go to school.
  • I need to re-enter Japan for treatment at a Japanese medical institution such as surgery (including re-examination) or childbirth.
  • I had to depart from Japan to visit a relative who was in critical condition abroad or to attend the funeral of a deceased relative.
  • I had to depart from Japan for treatment at a foreign medical institution such as surgery (including re-examination) or childbirth.
  • I had to depart from Japan after receiving a summons from a foreign court to appear as a witness.

Foreigners who left AFTER the entry ban

  • I had to depart from Japan to visit a relative who was in critical condition abroad or to attend the funeral of a deceased relative.
  • I had to depart from Japan for treatment at a foreign medical institution such as surgery (including re-examination) or childbirth.
  • I had to depart from Japan after receiving a summons from a foreign court to appear as a witness.

Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s official website for more information.

Can I deliver or receive mail in Japan?

Japan Post will stop deliveries to/from 153 countries.

Coronavirus has affected mail delivery in Japan.

Japan Post has released a statement that reads, “transportation performance has significantly declined,” and that as of April 02, it has temporarily ceased acceptance of international inbound mail through EMS and airmail from 126 countries and territories. Additionally, all types of mail from 27 countries have been temporally suspended.

To view all affected countries and territories, please view the official list from Japan Post.

On April 26, Japan Post temporarily suspended most mail delivery to the United States.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are postponed

The government has finally postponed the Olympics to 2021.

After weeks of stating the contrary, Prime Minister Abe and the International Olympic Committee have finally postponed the Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021.

“We are committed to holding the Games in a complete form when we can prove that human beings have overcome illness caused by the new coronavirus,” said Abe.

Games tickets that are already purchased will be valid for a new date.

The Olympic flame will remain in Japan, and organizers have stated the following in regards to ticket holders:

  • In principle, Games tickets that are already purchased will be valid for a new date.
  • Your tickets will be refunded if you will not be able to visit the venue on a new date and wish to receive a refund.
  • In case we cannot secure your place for a new date due to the change in schedule and/or venue, your tickets will be refunded.
  • Previously, we planned to deliver the Games tickets from June, but we have decided to suspend delivery for now.

Should you wear a mask to protect yourself against the coronavirus?

Masks are not as effective as people think.

According to WHO, “masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.” However, some officials attribute Japan’s low infection rate to its mask-wearing culture.

There is currently a nation-wide mask shortage, and resell has been banned. People line up outside stores early in the morning to buy them, and they sell out as quickly as they are restocked. 

How should you protect yourself against the coronavirus?

Good hygiene is your best weapon against coronavirus.

There are a few key preventative measures you should take while in Japan to decrease your risk of getting infected. These are the same general rules that you should apply during the cold and flu season, really.

Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial agents and soap

This is especially important before touching your face or eating, and after coming in contact with animals and public spaces like restaurants and public transportation.

Avoid touching your face

This is something we do so often and a key way through which viruses can get into the body.

Avoid taking the train during rush hour

The virus is spread via respiratory droplets—easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Obviously, you want to avoid contact with sick people and try to maintain at least a one-meter distance between yourself and infected persons. Riding the train during morning and evening rush hours in major cities like Tokyo may increase your chance of exposure.

Wipe down surfaces before using them

This is important in public spaces with high turnover rates, such as fast-food restaurants.

What should you do if you think you have the coronavirus?

JNTO, the Japan National Tourism Organization, has a multilingual coronavirus hotline for those who think they may be affected. Support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Check the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s website for updates as the situation gradually changes. The Ministry has also provided a list of hospitals in Japan that are able to provide testing and treatment for the virus. Unfortunately, the list is in Japanese only.

We will continue to update this page as the story in Japan develops.

Please call the JNTO Multilingual Hotline at 050-3816-2787 in English, Japanese, or Korean in the event of emergencies related to the coronavirus.

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