When Will Japan Reopen to Tourists?

When will Japan lift its travel ban and reopen for international tourists? Will borders open in 2022? These are two common questions among those planning trips to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and beyond. We monitor foreign visitor advisories, news, states of emergency, vaccine passports, and inoculation progress for answers. (Updated November 29, 2021.)

New infections have been decreasing dramatically for the last two months, with new daily cases currently at their lowest level in over a year, and still falling. The state of emergency covering Tokyo and 18 other prefectures was lifted over a month ago, and cases continue to decline. With the country’s election in the rearview mirror, Japan has already set plans in motion to begin its reopening, further relaxing domestic travel restrictions. That is, until the new Omicron variant threw a monkey wrench into plans (more on that below in the ‘Omicron Update’ section).

If you’re simply looking for an official answer about when Japan will reopen, we don’t have that–and no one knows. If you’d like to be notified as soon as an announcement is made by Japan’s government, subscribe to our free email newsletter. This post is speculative, with commentary about variables that’ll impact Japan’s border reopening later, and when we anticipate the travel ban ending…

Prior to Japan declaring its first state of emergency, we planned on traveling to Japan for sakura season, staying for a couple of months for research and additions to our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto. These plans were abandoned at the last minute, and we stayed in the United States.

For the last year, we’ve been closely watching the improvements in Japan, hoping for some clarity as to when the country will fully reopen and Japan will begin allowing international tourists to enter once again. We’ve cancelled three return trips since then, most recently for December 2021.

In terms of current travel advisories, Japan has imposed entry bans on over 150 countries including the United States, Canada, all of Europe (including the United Kingdom), and most of Asia. The travel bans are currently in effect indefinitely. Japan has also temporarily suspended visa exemptions, making it necessary to apply for a visa prior to traveling.

Additionally, everyone entering Japan must undergo a mandatory quarantine at a designated location and may not use public transportation for 10 days upon arrival. (This was just shortened from 14 days at the end of last month.) Most foreigners, including those who have been to countries on the entry ban list within 14 days of their arrival in Japan, will be turned away under current border control measures.

In a nutshell, it’s presently impossible to visit Japan unless you are a Japanese citizen or meet one of the few exceptions. That’s probably not going to apply to anyone reading this English language blog post, so let’s turn to what the future holds…

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are both over, having been held behind closed doors and without the normal surge of tourism the Games generate. Economists are projecting staggering direct losses due to the absence of spectators at the Olympics and Paralympics, which is likely to decrease overall consumer spending by as much as 70 billion yen ($643 million).

However, some indirect economic advantages of the Olympics remain. The Games exposed and highlighted Japan to a global audience for two weeks, which normally has a high residual value for the travel & tourism sectors. It’s unclear whether the Tokyo Summer Olympics will prove as valuable to Japan’s tourism marketing initiatives, as fewer viewers at home were likely enticed to book international trips while watching the travelogue segments.

Beyond the Olympics, the economic benefits of international tourists is one big reason why Japan is expected to reopen its border. Boosting tourism was core to former Prime Minister Abe’s economic revitalization, and both subsequent prime ministers have indicated their intentions to maintain continuity with those plans

The Tokyo Olympics were instrumental to these plans, with Japan’s inbound tourism target for last year being 40 million visitors, up from a record 31.9 million visitors the year before. Instead, only ~4 million international travelers visited Japan.

Economists fear a “double dip” recession in Japan due to the prolonged closures and restrictions. Decreased tourism plus falling exports, an increased consumption tax, reduced consumer spending, and growing national debt. Suffice to say, Japan’s economy has serious issues and inbound tourism was previously a bright spot.

In other words, reopening to international visitors will be important to the health of Japan’s consumption-driven economy at some point in the not too distant future. However, a necessary prerequisite is the country’s physical health. With that in mind, let’s take a look at current case numbers and vaccinations…

Omicron Update

We’re back with an end-of-month update for November 2021, and it’s not an optimistic one. Japan announced that it will close its borders to new entries by foreigners amid concern over the new Omicron variant, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowing to act fast to “avoid the worst-case scenario.”

The preventative barring of foreigners will take effect tomorrow and last until December 30, 2021. Kishida said closing Japan’s border is a “temporary measure until information about the Omicron variant becomes clear,” adding that “when dealing with an unknown risk, it’s best to take every precaution.”

Japan had just eased its ban on new entries by some foreigners on November 8, allowing in business travelers on short stays, students in study abroad programs, and participants in its technical internship program. All of these entries will now be barred until at least the end of December 2021.

Additionally, 14 countries and regions including Britain and Germany will be added to a list of places from which returning Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be subject to stricter quarantine requirements.

Japan will also lower its daily limit for the number of people arriving from 5,000 back down to 3,500. Returning Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be required to isolate for two weeks, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated.

The WHO has designated the Omicron strain a “variant of concern,” warning it has a large number of mutations. This suggests that Omicron may be highly transmissible, pose an increased risk of reinfection, or be able to evade existing vaccines. However, much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, as it was detected early and there are still few documented instances of its transmission.

Omicron could turn out to be nothing at all, as has been the case with several past variants of concern. At the other end of the spectrum, Omicron could be more transmissible but less lethal, posing a lower overall risk to the population. It could also be akin to the Delta variant, which caused skyrocketing numbers over the summer in many locations. Very little is certain about Omicron at this point, so it doesn’t accomplish much to fan the flames on fear or optimism. It’s too early for either.

Regardless, this obviously amounts to a setback in Japan’s reopening progress. While tourists hadn’t yet been allowed to reenter Japan, the country will still scale up slowly when reopening does resume–and this is at least a month of lost time. Even assuming the absolute best case scenario, no foreign tourists will be entering Japan until sometime in 2022.

Beyond that, there’s the concern that regardless of what happens with Omicron, this step backwards will vindicate those within Japan who warned of reopening or fear-mongered foreigners. Even prior to Omicron, case numbers were already on the rise throughout Europe and North America. If Japan’s numbers remain low through the holiday season, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where that’s attributed to the border closure–even though Japan’s numbers have been low for several months now because the country was already hit by the worst of the Delta wave.

Before Omicron, there was other cause for renewed pessimism. When reopening to business travelers earlier in November, representatives of Japan’s government indicated that there was a plan to gradually reopen to tourism, starting towards the end of this year the country would “consider resuming the acceptance of tour groups by reviewing within this year how their activities can be controlled and monitored.”

As more came out about that, it was revealed that the plan was to do a “test run” with select domestic travel agencies that would operate a closely-screened trial of small-scale groups for overseas tourists, who will be required to arrive by air and travel exclusively on dedicated tour buses that will be forbidden from stopping in any major cities, and only visit more rural and less populated areas. This was expected to be the first phase of reopening for tourists, beginning in December 2021 and continuing through early 2022. Obviously, this is not what most people planning a trip to Japan probably have in mind for their visit.

Prior to all of this, the biggest recent development is that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s coalition kept a comfortable majority in parliamentary election. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito together won 293 seats, which is well above the majority of 233 needed in the 465-member lower house of Japan’s two-chamber Diet.

The LDP alone won 261 seats, giving it an absolute majority to control all parliamentary committees and legislation. For reopening purposes, this is significant as it bolsters the ruling party’s plans for reviving Japan’s sagging economy while normalizing social activity. To that end, travel restrictions within Japan are already being lifted, with an eye towards loosening more in the future to help in aiding the recovery.

With that said, there is one prolific leader who continues to make waves and suggest the opposite approach: Shigeru Omi, an immunologist who heads the government pandemic response subcommittee. At a conference last week, he warned against loosening reopening too quickly because “other viruses come in if you suddenly loosen border control measures.”

Shigeru Omi has made headlines repeatedly for ‘sky is falling’ predictions and extremely cautious recommendations, many of which have been wrong or ignored. If his advice were always heeded, the Olympics would have been cancelled, schools wouldn’t have reopened, and many businesses would still be shuttered.

It should be of absolutely no surprise that Shigeru Omi is against a reopening or exit plan given his past statements. There’s also the matter of self-interest, as life returning to normal would marginalize his influence. In short, what he says has little bearing on Japan’s reopening, one way or the other.

It should also come as no surprise that similar beliefs are held by a broad swath of the public, especially older Japanese individuals. Compared to most highly industrialized nations, Japan remains relatively insular and apprehensive of outsiders. For better or worse, it’s a culturally conservative country–a characteristic that is often valued by visitors. Not so much in the last year-plus, as this has been reflected in policy-making; Japan has vilified and scapegoated foreigners and had an overly aggressive approach to its borders.

That’s one of the reasons we previously cautioned against expecting any reopening announcements prior to Japan’s election. For many voters, reopening was simply a politically unpalatable policy. However, another thing that’s politically unpalatable is a struggling economy. Japan has lagged behind economically, seeing slower recovery than the United States and other counterparts that have more aggressively reopened. The point is that the general public often holds internally incompatible beliefs or desires, which cannot be reconciled in making public policy.

Based on public statements and post-election moves thus far, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party recognize this and are focusing on rebuilding the economy. Speaking on NHK, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that his top priority was formulating new economic measures and implementing these goals in a supplementary budget.

“With the results of this election, we will swiftly put together economic measures,” Kishida said. The major pillars of the economic measures will be to provide benefits for businesses and households that have been hit especially hard. The government will also take measures to stimulate and jump-start the economy.

The ruling government is doing so with an eye towards next summer, when the upper house election will almost certainly be decided on the basis of how well the economy has recovered. Even officials in the LDP have conceded that accumulating achievements and quantifiable results will be necessary for success.

Among the business community and economists, there’s a belief that the government will also reform border controls. “While international travel won’t make or break the economy, it’s an easy-to-observe metric that may shape public sentiment,” Kenneth Mori McElwain of the University of Tokyo told Reuters.

In the meantime, Japan is likely to resume the government’s “Go To Travel” subsidy program for the promotion of domestic tourism. “It is a program crucial for the recovery of tourist sites and local economies,” said Tetsuo Saito. This comes amidst announcements by Japan Airlines and ANA (among other companies) that they will be forced to reduce their workforces due to record losses.

Japan is also maintaining its goal of attracting 60 million foreign visitors by 2030. Additionally, the Japan National Tourism Organization has set 2024 as its goal for recovering to 2019 international travel levels. Both of these statements are reassuring given the current border closures, and indicate that Japan will unwind its travel ban in months, not years.

This sentiment mirrors that of other countries, including much of Europe and the United States. Perhaps most notably, there’s New Zealand, which just announced a shift from suppressing all outbreaks and new cases to “living with the virus.” The country has seemingly acknowledged that chasing zero cases is a fool’s errand, as the disease will become endemic.

Other countries that have been among the most “locked down” in the world have adopted similar strategies. The increased momentum towards a “life with the virus” approach recognizes it becoming endemic. Other countries are contemplating similar policy changes, undoubtedly recognizing the same practical realities.

Some of Japan’s recent moves suggest it is also moving in that direction. While Japan’s measures have never been as stringent as New Zealand, many of Japan’s decisions–or lack thereof–have been driven by fear of cultural outsiders, the unknown, and indecisiveness. Immunity is essentially the only way out of this endless cycle of lockdowns and loosening of restrictions. The vaccine campaign being successful in flattening case numbers is thus a necessary prerequisite to the border reopening.

As indicated above, reopening will be a phased approach starting with students, business travelers, and certain training programs. The tentative plan is–or was–to allow leisure travel after that. Japan has a plan to roll out countermeasures and a travel program set up for international tourists. Once these safety measures are in place, the government plans to lift Japan’s travel ban on foreign tourists gradually.

Originally, the proposed health safety measures aim to cover the three steps of a tourist’s “journey” to Japan from arrival to stay to departure. This would be done via the establishment of a health management app and a dedicated “Fever Health Consultation Support Centre.” However, it’s worth noting that this program began development last fall, and its debut was expected before vaccine rollout began. This might still debut at some point for unvaccinated visitors, but our expectation is that it’ll be largely superseded by vaccine passports and certificates.

One component of last year’s version of Japan’s reopening program was that it was slated to begin rolling out in the winter. At the time, the goal was to gradually resume tourism with a soft launch during the off-season when travel volume was lower. From there, it would scale up for spring and summer, when demand naturally increases.

This is noteworthy because we’ve seen many readers comment with the expectation that Japan will reopen right before the sakura season in Spring 2022. While anything is possible, we are skeptical of that. Based on the totality of the circumstances and Japan’s measured and methodical (to use charitable terms) approach, we highly doubt Japan will simply open the floodgates for its busiest travel season of the year. More likely, it’ll be a pilot program and/or slow launch targeting a time when travel is lower.

When is an open question, and largely dependent upon how the domestic travel resumption goes, whether there’s another significant spike in cases, and if Omicron amounts to anything. As noted above, Japan is currently preparing hospitals for a “sixth wave” of cases resulting from family gatherings. If that wave materializes, it could delay reopening plans. If it doesn’t, it could accelerate them.

Accordingly, it’s our view that a reopening in February 2022 is plausible if things go well and Omicron isn’t a serious setback. Probably more realistic than April 2022 given normal visitor volume for each of those months. If there’s another wave or Omicron causes significant spikes in other countries, reopening might get pushed back to Summer 2022.

Ultimately, Japan reopening to tourists as part of its phased approach in early 2022 is just a guess–and we’ve made several overly optimistic guesses that have turned out to be wrong. With Omicron now in the picture and Japan pumping the brakes until at least December 30, it’s completely certain that Japan will not reopen in 2021.

Barring something catastrophic, international travel to Japan still seems likely by Spring 2022. Even though Japan is cautious and conservative, with a slow and belabored decision-making process that often embodies “analysis paralysis,” the tides seem to be turning. Japan cannot stay its present course with devastating economic consequences, and its government recognizes this. If you’re planning a visit, our recommendation at this point is to target the 2022 cherry blossom season. Not because we think that is precisely when Japan will reopen, but because we anticipate the reopening to have scaled up and smoothed out by that point–and because that’s simply a good time to visit Japan.

Either way, we’ll keep watching the news and keep you posted if/when there are further developments about Japan reopening and allowing entry to travelers from the United States, Canada, Europe, and beyond. Again, if you’d like to be notified as soon as more details are released or rumored, subscribe to our free email newsletter for ongoing updates and alerts:

If you’re planning a trip to the Japan, check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other things to do! We also recommend consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto and Ultimate Guide to Tokyo to plan.

Your Thoughts

Would you consider visiting Japan later this year, or is international travel out of the question for you until 2022? Are you concerned by the spiking number of cases in Japan? Think rising vaccinations plus the need to adapt and live with the virus will outweigh that when it comes to Japan’s reopening plans? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? If you’re planning your trip to Japan, what do you think about these itineraries? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!

503 replies
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  1. Leonidas
    Leonidas says:

    Thanks for your updates and insights as always.

    The way they rapidly took back the reopening for business and students (something that even Australia hasn’t decided upon yet) is really worrysome. Even if Omicron doesn’t pose any major treat, Japan clearly gave us a message that as long as new variants of concern appear, they will immediately shut the borders for how long they see fit.

    At this point, still believing in a spring reopening (by reopening I mean like “normal countries” kind of reopening, not a 24h controlled bus tour in rural Japan) is very unlikely.
    The kind of reopening that we all want to see will probably happen only around June, and that is depending in the pandemic situation around the world (pretty sure Japan will be able to keep its cases inside extremely low).

    They clearly don’t care about the economic impact this might cause in industry, even less in tourism. When they talk about needing to recover the economy, they are talking always about inside measures, not outside.
    The outside is scary, and sadly, that’s the thought that is winning inside the heads of those who take the decisions in the country.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    Thanks for the insights Tom. I’m an avid reader of both your blogs and hoping for a trip to Japan early summer of 2022.

    Might be worth noting that Japan is one of the few countries with a list of vaccines that does NOT include J&J. That’s impactful for many US visitors who may be considering a trip. Under their current policy one must have 2 shots from Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZenica – so even those of us with J&J plus an mRNA booster will need another shot if that policy does not change.

  3. Christopher Pineau
    Christopher Pineau says:

    I concur that being just as intolerant and xenophobic to Japan as they are being right now to outsiders is not the proper answer. They’re people just like us, and while the negative side of Japan is being shown off, here? We should remember that that goes for any country; every country has their dark side. America certainly does and I still love my country, warts and all. I had a great time in Tokyo in 2019 and got by really well by being polite and respectful (a couple of token “foreigner moments” aside), and only encountered one mildly negative experience that was immediately counterbalanced by something good that happened afterward, so I refuse to take a negative view of Japan on the whole. If they choose to turn on foreigners when the chips are down, that’s on them, not on us by and large, and in the end? It’s God’s job to judge, not ours. Whenever Japan opens up again, whenever that is? I will gladly arrange to travel back there and enjoy the people, food, and culture again, with everything firmly in mind, positive and negative. Life’s too short to boycott everything and not be able to enjoy life for it, in the end. One must pick one’s battles in that realm. Next time, definitely Osaka/Kyoto for me!

    • McJ
      McJ says:

      From a tourist’s perspective I agree, the world is big and everyone is useful but no one is indispensable (i.e. Japan). From the point of view of those who have families, relatives, homes, interests of various kinds, the situation changes, and in addition to frustration and disappointment, there is also the sad awareness of the most deteriorating and xenophobic aspects of the country. Yet Admiral Perry should have taught them that isolation policies lead nowhere. As has always happened in their history, they will suddenly realize this, but too late.

  4. Nick
    Nick says:

    Forget Japan for the foreseeable future. The brutal truth is they have happy shutting off foreigners and could continue to do so for far longer than what we would consider rational/reasonable. This is the 2nd Sakoku.

  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    My son is an expat living in Japan. He was planning on coming home for Christmas and is worried about getting back in Japan. Will this be a problem?

  6. Chris D
    Chris D says:

    It’s good news that, from Monday, business travelers will once again be allowed to enter with 3 days of quarantine. They also promise to review within the year as to whether it can be eased further. Fingers crossed for early next year.

    • Carmen
      Carmen says:

      I am registered for the Tokyo Marathon 6th March 2022. It seems they are planning to definitely be open by then as they are allowing international runners again. At least I hope so!

      • Leonidas
        Leonidas says:

        I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

        It’s a sports event after all, and for a country that bringed thousands of athletes for the olympics, a single marathon with foreigners wouldn’t bring a problem am I right?

        Obviously being ironic but I can see that coming from Japan.

  7. Octavio
    Octavio says:

    This “closed country” nightmare, despite the suffering and distress that brought upon us, has one positive aspect: it removed from our minds the image of a perfect and welcoming Japan. We all want to go there, of course, but at least we will be able to see and understand the ugly parts too. Japan is great, but it’s still a country trapped in its Imperial mentality, quite xenophobic to be honest, and where collective social Shame and Fear are used control its citizens under the excuse of “doing the right thing” and “being polite”. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a dream for the traveler, with the Sakura, the temples, shrines, and the beautiful nature, but it can be hell for who must live and work there forever. Good luck and happy travels.

    • Renzo Ramezani
      Renzo Ramezani says:

      Absolutely right. When the chips are down they will turn on the foreigners without mercy. I’ve been big time Japanophile since 2008 visiting at least twice a year but started to take note of Japan’s darker side when they turned on ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Japan is both the most civilized and polite and the most savage and barbaric. I think its this duality that makes it fascinating to visit.

  8. Renzo
    Renzo says:

    It is all but certain there will be new variants and flareups in the months ahead so as long as they are holding this vague policy the doors will remain shut. Spring will turn to Summer then Fall 2022 and on and on. At some point they will have to admit and learn to live with Covid but dont bet any time soon. Could be years away.

  9. Jen
    Jen says:

    Booked a refundable itinerary for our honeymoon, March into April! Best case, we go for the steal of a deal we got; worst, we push it back to autumn. Thank you for the update!

  10. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    I appreciate the continued updates. I’ve read a few things on the web sicne the election, but this is the most comprehensive piece I’ve found.

  11. Luciano
    Luciano says:

    I have a trip to Japan on Dec 24 and coming back on Jan 07/2022. I’m hoping that Japan opens in December but reading this article, I’m not so sure. Too bad as this was a dream trip family, in one of the best time of the year. Anyways, let’s hope for the best.

  12. John Maruyama
    John Maruyama says:

    For myself, I would wait until the immunization period is lowered to 3-days before I travel to Japan. My target date is October-November 2022 during the autumn season.

    • Virginia
      Virginia says:

      Finally some good news! Let’s hope cases don’t go up much during New Year and perhaps we’ll hear more good news on January. Keeping my fingers crossed!

      • Galo
        Galo says:

        Agree. I believe that, unless the new-year season goes horribly wrong in terms on infections/deaths/healthcare-pressure, tourism travel would start in a limited fashion (certain countries, certain vaccines, daily traveler cap, etc) sometime in mid/late-January 2022.

  13. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    I urge everyone who has suffered disappointment and loss due to Japan’s xenophobic travel restrictions to boycott Japanese products and not to travel to Japan even after the restrictions are lifted. Why travel to a country that views you as a dirty foreigner when you can experience East Asian culture in other, more friendly and welcoming countries, such as Taiwan and Korea?

    After falling in love with Japanese culture, I spent many years visiting Japan, promoting Japanese culture to family and friends, and defending Japan against the often-heard charges of xenophobia. The pandemic has exposed Japan’s true colors, and so I no longer promote or defend Japan. The younger generation of Japanese may be different, but the gerontocrats in control of the country and the majority of their constituents have demonstrated to the world that the apple has not fallen far from the 鎖国, 尊王攘夷, 日本人論 tree.

    Japanese nationals are permitted to travel freely anywhere in the world, and the Japanese government will even pay for their quarantine upon return, yet foreign tourists are completely barred. The restrictions are therefore not about keeping out variants, which will enter via returning Japanese nationals. The Japanese government has also provided subsidies for domestic travel, thus encouraging movement (and facilitating disease transmission), while at the same time barring even foreign residents from returning. It is considering restarting this campaign even while foreign tourists are still barred. What possible explanation can there be for this other than xenophobia?

    Why should we spend our money in such a country, even after it reopens? And why should any country admit Japanese nationals while their own citizens are barred from entering Japan? I urge you all to contact your respective representatives, foreign ministries, etc., and demand that Japanese tourists be barred from entering your countries unless and until your compatriots are permitted to enter Japan on basic principles of reciprocity. Japanese must be made to understand that they cannot enjoy the world outside 神の国 without allowing the rest of the world access to the elements of our common human heritage of which they are the current caretakers.

    • john
      john says:

      Hahah, relax. You cannot enter Taiwan for tourism or social reasons. For Korea, short term foreign visitors will need to quarantine for 14 days, not exactly open to tourism, is it? Even USA has not opened yet (they will only open to UK, EU tourism on the 8th of November after neatly 2 years of pressure and very reluctantly). And Australia is even worse than Japan (only Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia without an exemption until further notice.)
      Take a chill pill, you should be able to travel to Japan next summer.

      • Dennis
        Dennis says:

        My point was not that other countries have not acted xenophobically (they have, and they should also be boycotted by travelers and pressured to change). However, I am aware of no other democratic country where the difference in treatment between citizens and foreigners has been so stark.

        I have friends with student visas who had to abandon their studies in Japan, while at the same time my Japanese friends were traveling to areas of high transmission, returning to 3-day quarantines in government-paid hotel rooms, and then promptly flouting the restrictions on movement following release. My Japanese friends said that they had never seen tourist sites so crowded as during last year’s Go To Travel campaign.

        As you point out, Korea does allow foreign tourists if they quarantine. You are right that Taiwan does not allow foreign tourists, but at least they did not discriminate between citizens and non-citizen residents, as Japan did. Australia did not allow their own nationals to leave and return. The US case is also instructive. When Europe opened to American tourists and America (wrongly) failed to reciprocate, the EU pressured the US by rolling back access to Americans, and this pressure worked. My point was that the same pressure needs to be applied to Japan.

        You say that I should be able to travel to Japan next summer, but that is pure speculation and wishful thinking. The Japanese government has provided no guidance on timing, and if you follow Japanese media, aside from those directly involved in the tourism industry, there is no groundswell of public sentiment clamoring for reopening. The reality is that Japan will not reopen to foreigners next summer (or anytime) unless Japanese themselves begin to feel the costs of continuing on the present course. Those who wish to experience Japan should therefore do what they can to apply such pressure. But I would also suggest that those thinking of traveling to Japan in the future also consider whether they want to spend their money in a country that has so clearly demonstrated that it only wants foreigners for their money and, if given the opportunity, will otherwise treat us as pests bringing disease, danger, and disorder.

        • john
          john says:

          It is a reasonable speculation that Japan should reopen next summer (although probably by the earliest). Even the “Spanish flu” lasted around 2.5 years and that was without vaccines in place.
          Fundamentally, we are not Japanese, it is their country and they can do whatever they like. Note Japan has one of the highest number of elderly in the population (per capita) in the world (age is the biggest risk factor). I can’t see how Japan acted somehow far more outrageously than a lot of other countries.
          I agree though that ‘zero Covid’ strategy is delusional at this point in time, a more pragmatic approach is to vaccinate whoever wants a vaccine and then once that is done live life as normal with minimal restrictions. For that reason I can’t see Japan being closed for more than another 6 months (+/- a few).
          Patience. Remember the great Stoic philosophy:
          1. Correctly identifying what is within our control, and what is not.
          2. Focusing our effort on the things within our control and learning to accept what is not.

          I think you would better use your negative energy towards something positive, like improving Japanese language, or saving for the next big trip (the longer they are closed, the more you can save, the better standard experience you will have). Look at the positives. I postponed Japan trip twice and used the travel credit for a trip to Hawaii instead. When Japan reopen, I will be back, whenever that is…

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Yesterday a Japanese national dressed as “The Joker” tried to stab people on the metro, seriously injuring at least 17 people, then setting the train on fire.

      If the government’s aim was to protect the population from any kind of potential danger in the same way how they do with the border closing due to covid, they would have to ban Halloween and any kind of costumes in public, including cosplay. However, they will most likely not do this. Why? Because no foreigner was involved in yesterday’s attack.

      Imagine a foreigner would have done this. The government would drastically tighten visa and residence permit regulations.

    • Octavio
      Octavio says:

      I understand and share the pain and disappointment… Some degree of pressure is required to show that the Japanese Government’s behavior is NOT acceptable in today’s world: all travelers, students and workers DESERVED to be informed of what was going on regarding the border closure. It was an absolute lack of respect and it must be exposed as such. We will still visit Japan, of course, ate least once in our lives, but we will now know that Japanese politeness and respect are, many times, just for show.

  14. Estella Dawson
    Estella Dawson says:

    My son, wife and new grand baby are going to be stationed in Japan in July. We want to be there for the babies first birthday in November 2022.
    Praying they will be open for us to go.

  15. James
    James says:

    Yes, so now election is over, LDP remains in office with majority, albeit losing less than 20 seats. However, I think we will get to a very dilemma situation:
    -COVID case flattened and decreasing: Japanese Public would disregard ‘with-covid’ campaign, and regard every international visitors as ‘source of infection’. They could easily revert to ‘Zero-Covid’, and they could say ‘Yes, case is falling. Why not zero covid and lock foreigners out? It’s dangerous. Also, we have Shigeru Omi, who is barking to the medias all day about ‘next wave of infection’ and ‘good border control’.
    -COVID case rise up again. Obviously in this case border will not open for reasons we know.

    To make things worse, there will be upper house election in June next year. Would this be a concern is an open question.

    But, there has been some positive news. Economic minister Yamagiwa has indicated that they are ‘proceeding to ease border/quarantine measurements’ on 17 OCT. And there has been some reports on Nikkei that in November business people could enter. Furthermore, the recent weakened JPY/USD means price of living hood will increase in Japan, but the exports will increase. The government would absolutely consider this, and would they want to miss this opportunity to attract foreign money?

    Japan had been transforming into a tourism country for decades since the 2004 ‘Kanko Rikkoku Sengen (Tourism As Main Pillar of Country Proclamation)’ until 2020, and we have seen so many facilities built for international visitors. Their losses and bankruptcies during COVID, and should current border closure continue, will be enormous. Many owners have claimed that having just domestic visitors alone, albeit GOTO campaign, their income are still far from the days when international visitors were there. Furthermore, opening the borders for international visitors would mean Goto campaign are less required, saving tax-payers money. Remember, there is no free lunch. The more money is squandered to Goto campaign, the more tax people have to pay later on, with probability of increasing consumer tax to 15%-20%.
    Japan has been utilising the gratitude from countries around the world as increasing number of countries give benefit on entry/quarantine with Japanese vaccine passport. But they are failing to reciprocate this. It is unfair to just greedily take up benefit without reciprocating them, and we are seeing countries, like Singapore, open their border to other countries with far higher Covid rate, but not Japan. Why Japanese passport holders can go wherever they want, and international passengers can’t go to your place? If Japan’s border closure persists with no sign of releasing, I think countries around the world should boycott Japan. Block Japanese people from entering other countries, and introduce tough 21-day quarantine for them. It’s what they deserve. Wanting foreign money but hate foreign people is not making Japan an attractive destination. Besides, we have ‘Squid game’ going really hot these days, and South Korea does have policies of accepting foreign visitors for tourism purposes, as long as you accept 14-day hotel quarantine. For some super fans of Korea, this could be a good chance. If Japan continues the way it is, then the visitors will go to South Korea instead, and probably not going to return.

    Either way, Kishida needs to have a clear mind about things. For those who really like Japan (Japanophiles) , including me, we are here to cause no harm to Japan. But if you hate us to every extent, then you will lose us. He does not need to eliminate quarantine requirement completely, but he needs to accept people into the country. Personally, I don’t mind do out of pocket cost hotel quarantine for a reasonable period (certainly no more than 10 days), as long as I can get in.

    Anyway, let’s see how things go, and just as Tom said, let’s hope things change in a hurry after election. I would anticipate that quarantine still exist, and probably like South Korea, a hotel quarantine would be mandatory for short term visitors. But probably the days will decrease to 7-5 days. Borders will be opened, and I will fly on first available flight.

    • Renzo
      Renzo says:

      I am in agreement with what you’re saying mate. At this point we just have to accept Japan for what it is. Personally Im not going to put a timeframe on when they’ll let us in , rather I just say it’ll happen at some point but in the meantime there are plenty of countries in Asia to explore such as Singapore and Thailand. When they “collectively” come to a decision to accept the new normal and learn to live with COVID just like the rest of us I’ll take a look but for now it is what it is. Cant find hundreds if not thousands of years of overly cautious mentality with various degrees of xenophobia sprinkled on top…

  16. chris
    chris says:

    hey! thank you for your post!
    do you think may 2022 would be a good time concerning the situation with covid? do you think there is a chance?

  17. Sad
    Sad says:

    Major travel and entertainment companies, including ANA, Disney, H.I.S are reporting 60~70% drops in profits for the second year in a row.
    Because of the 10 days quarantine, there is no incentive for overseas travel for Japanese people, while domestic travel is not covering the losses of the lack of tourists in the country.
    I don’t understand why keep the country locked up like this, it’s absolutely mental when the entire world has opened up.
    If only it weren’t for the 10 days quarantine it would’ve been a little more sane.


  18. Renzo
    Renzo says:

    Japan is no stranger to isolation. The door were firmly shut for almost 200 years before Captain Perry and the United States literally forced them to open (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakoku). Whats truly unfortunate is we in the West always have to carry the burden of sanity and are allowing Japanese to enter without any restrictions. Doesnt it make sense to have our border policies be based to reciprocity? Why are we letting them in while they are calling us virus carries and all sorts of things?

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Fully agree. I wrote in this forum before that this is the beginning of the 2nd sakoku period.
      No other countries should let in any Japanese travellers and consumers around the world should boycott Japanese products for as long as that nationalist-racist border policy and attitude is in place. Then Japan will be back to being a rice-farmer society and nobody in Japan will be able to purchase those latest iphones and Luis Vuitton handbags anymore that are so important to them. Maybe then the Japanese society will wake up.

      • Renzo
        Renzo says:

        It seems pretty likely two countries are racing to claim the last-country-to-reopen prize: China and Japan. China is basically waiting for COVID to “disappear” and judging by what their politicians are saying Japan is pretty much on the same line

        • Leonidas
          Leonidas says:

          I would say at this point Japan is even worst than China.

          afaik China at least said that once 85% of its population gets fully vaccinated, an opening could start.

          Japan doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t announce anything. It remains in complete silence. Heck even New Zealand said something.

          At this point, like Chris said, they are using the virus as an excuse to return to be the extremely closed country it once was.

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