Japan’s borders could reopen in March after being closed to tourists for two years.
Europeans are currently only allowed to enter the country in exceptional circumstances. Rules for foreign students and business travelers were temporarily relaxed at the end of 2021, but borders were quickly closed again in response to the spread of Omicron.
The strict restrictions are set to expire on February 28. And, although they could be extended again, the government would be inclined to let them end, according to Kyodo News.
This will be good news for tourism organizations and those wishing to return to the beautiful island country.
Nearly 3 million overseas residents visited Japan in April 2019, when the cherry blossoms are at their peak. If restrictions ease significantly at the end of this month, spring visits are expected to increase again.
How could Japan’s travel rules change?
European nations and the UK are on a long list of countries from which travel to Japan is generally not permitted, except for specific reasons described by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign visitors who qualify for a visa (family members of Japanese nationals, for example) must take a PCR or quantitative Covid test 72 hours before departure, before undergoing a seven-day quarantine period.
The government is considering shortening this to three or five days for boosted visitors, or those who can present a negative test.
Some government officials want to do away with the self-isolation period altogether, a source told Kyodo News.
They add that the cap on the number of foreign participants each day could increase from its current limit of 3,500. Until November 2021, up to 5,000 visitors were allowed to enter daily before restrictions were tightened again. .
“We will take into account accumulated scientific knowledge on the Omicron variant, changes in infection conditions inside and outside Japan, and border control measures of other countries,” the Prime Minister said recently. Minister Fumio Kishida to journalists.
Although he indicated the government would consider easing the ban, the prime minister declined to give further details.
It seems likely that booster vaccination will be a requirement for visiting the country, with delays on vaccine passports – similar to measures introduced by the EU earlier this month.
Arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific countries are currently allowed in Japan, and their travels could also become easier if restrictions are eased.
Currently, Australians must complete three of their seven-day self-isolation periods in a designated quarantine facility.
You can find further information and updates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.