From October, Japan will reopen its border restrictions to allow entry of new visa applicants from all areas other than visitors aimed at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During a meeting of the government subcommittee on the virus, the reform was announced Friday. It was expected to be accepted at the subsequent meeting of the government’s virus task force, in a long-anticipated step to ease the tight travel restrictions of the country.
Japan to Ease Entry Ban to Allow Long-Term Stays From Oct 1
As a temporary border protection measure, aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, the conditions were implemented in April.
Passengers from 159 countries and territories are in principle denied entry under current travel controls. To date, foreign nationals have been exempted for legal residency status, some newcomers in emergencies, as well as some visa applicants, whose families live in Japan or whose presence is part of a continuation of business activities by their employer, is necessary for.
New citizens with permission to remain longer than three months, regardless of where they come from, will be protected by the simple border protection measures that will enter into effect on Thursday.
The revision, which will not include visitors, will allow non-Japanese nationals to travel to Japan in stages, for reasons such as the provision of medical facilities, cultural events or educational activities.
Following the amendment, the reach of qualifying applicants would be extended to include foreign students who are privately sponsored. The government has been in the process of resuming the processing of visas for government-sponsored students since August. Visiting relatives using a family stay visa will also be included in the amended regulations.
Stricter entry protocols will be extended to travellers from regions with higher numbers of coronavirus infections.
“Further resumption of international travel is required to revitalise the (national) economy,” the Prime Minister told the government task force.
The decision to loosen the ban on entry comes as Japan prepares for the Tokyo Games, which will begin July 23 next year. The government is also expected to allow entry for sports professionals with improvements, which will help athletes, plan to participate.
Japan to Allow Entry to 1,000 Travelers a Day, But Not Tourists
Japan, however, will allow only a small number of new international arrivals, up to approximately 1,000 per day, partially due to small airport testing capacity. The restrictions will not protect Japanese citizens.
The government plans to increase the number of tests carried out at international airports in November to 20,000. All foreign nationals travelling to Japan are expected to be screened for the virus and to observe a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival, with some exceptions.
Following recent protocol updates, all foreign passengers, including those with legal residency status in Japan, must also submit evidence that they have checked COVID-19 negative within 72 hours before their departure for Japan.
Read More: How to Apply for a Student Visa in Japan?
Foreign nationals intending to travel to Japan will be expected to apply their travel schedule or comprehensive itinerary to Japan. They will be subject to more control steps, as the entry procedures vary for various categories of visas.
The government is also relaxing restrictions for business travellers at the same time. On Friday, the Foreign Ministry announced that, under a reciprocal arrangement, Japan would soon reopen its borders to long-term expatriates from Singapore and Brunei, forcing those qualified for self-isolation to fly for 14 days after entering their respective countries.
With 16 economies, mainly in Asia, in which Australia, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, Japan are negotiating to resume business travel. In all those countries, the epidemic is considered to be largely under control.
Read More: Best Universities to Study in Japan
Long-term and short-term travellers from seven countries have reopened their borders so far: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The new additions to the mutual business travel scheme are Singapore and Brunei.
Many individuals who were unable to fly during the pandemic said that their education or job prospects had been affected by the travel ban.