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Japan COVID-19 Update: Latest News, May 2022

Japan COVID-19 Update: Latest News, May 2022

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COVID-19 has had a significant impact on travel to and from Japan and is likely to have an ongoing affect on life here for some time yet. The following page is intended to provide accurate and relevant information for people planning to visit Japan from aboard, along with those already here and planning to travel between prefectures for tourism purposes. This page includes the following information:

1 / Latest News & Statistics re COVID-19 in Japan

2 / ‘State of Emergency’ vs ‘Quasi-State of Emergency’

3 / Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

4 / Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport

5 / Important Information re Understanding Japan’s COVID-19 Response

6 / Timeline of COVID-19 in Japan

The information provided on this page is intended for international travelers. It is taken from reliable and reputable sources, intended as a snapshot of what is happening in Japan, to help you make an informed decision about travelling here. As such, information not specifically relevant to international travelers – for example, information regarding government financial hand-outs – is not provided.

1 / LATEST NEWS & STATISTICS RE: COVID-19 IN JAPAN


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As of May 23rd 2022, Japan is reporting*:

Total active cases: 357,360

Total recorded infections: 8,597,287

Total recorded deaths: 30,126

Understanding Japan’s prefectural system is relevant for international travelers during COVID-19, as the conditions and implications between each of the 47 prefectures can vary greatly. For further information, refer to the information below.

*We update reported numbers every Monday.

Latest news:

May 23 2022: as of June 1st, Japan will double its cap on daily arrivals from 10,000 to 20,000. At the same time, it will introduce a new three-tiered system, categorising countries and regions into ‘blue’, ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ groupings, equating to low, mid and high risk. Travelers arriving from a blue / low risk country will not be required to undertake a COVID-19 test or undergo quarantine upon arrival, nor do they need to demonstrate their vaccination history. Those arriving from yellow / mid risk countries will be required to undergo a test upon arrival and isolate for three days at home or at their hotel. Travelers arriving from red / high risk countries will be required to undergo a test and isolate for at least three days at a designated facility. For more information about Japan’s current travel requirements, see our ‘Who Can Travel to Japan & What’s Required?’ page.

May 23 2022: the government has relaxed their COVID-19 guidance by advising that wearing face masks is no longer necessary when outdoors and when not speaking or when there is little conversation. The advice applies to situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained. At this time the government is still requesting that people wear masks when in indoor public places and on public transport.

May 18 2022: the government has announced it will allow small tour groups to enter Japan from the end of May, in a trial period intended to test Japan’s readiness to open its border for tourism. To begin, only 50 visitors from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States who have been triple-vaccinated will be allowed to join tours, coordinated by travel agencies and chaperoned by tour conductors at all times on fixed itineraries. Travel agents including JTB Corp, Nippon Travel Agency and others will be participating in the trial period.

May 16 2022: Japan is set to pass 30,000 COVID-19 deaths once the most recent data for the weekend is collated. Japan reported its first COVID death in February 2020 and reached 10,000 deaths in April 2021 and 20,000 deaths in February 2022. The short interval between passing 20,000 and 30,000 fatalities reflects the impact of the sixth and largest wave of infections Japan has experienced to date – which peaked in February – and another ongoing increase in cases following the recent ‘Golden Week’ period of national holidays. On Friday, Japan reported 39,647 new cases, an increase of more than 18,000 on the week before.

May 12 2022: the government looks set to increase the cap on daily arrivals to Japan from the current level of 10,000 to 20,000 in June. The increase comes as the government is also considering a trial period of small tour groups from abroad, to test Japan’s readiness to open its border. A further increase of daily arrivals would be continuation of a positive trend that has seen it raised from 3,500 in November to 5,000 and then 7,000 in March and the current limit of 10,000 in April.

May 9 2022: the government is considering opening the border to tour groups as early as the end of May, on a ‘trial basis’ as it looks toward a complete opening to inbound tourism later in the year. The report follows-on for Prime Minister Kishida’s recent comments that the government is looking to open the border in stages, in consultation with public health experts. Under this plan, tour groups will be limited in size with their movements monitored in order to assess the feasibility of a full opening and response measures should a COVID-19 case be reported within those travelers.

See our ‘Timeline of COVID-19 in Japan’ below for a history of significant dates and announcements since the beginning of the pandemic.

Entry to Japan / travel bans:

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, some passport holders are currently banned from entering Japan. Please refer to the following website for a list of foreign national/passport-holders affected by the restrictions.

2 / ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY vs ‘QUASI-STATE OF EMERGENCY’


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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has periodically introduced restrictions in specific regions of the country in order to curb the spread of the virus. Japan is divided into 47 prefectures with the national government sitting above them. The national government has the power to declare a formal ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in any prefecture, which is then required to implement restrictions on daily life in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. A formal or full State of Emergency is likely to include measures such as a request for residents to work from home when possible, avoid non-essential travel, restrictions on business opening hours, restrictions or bans on certain establishments such as bars opening and/or serving alcohol, and restrictions or bans on large scale events.

The power to declare a full State of Emergency rests with the national government, which can do so independently or at the request of the affected prefecture. The restrictions placed on any prefectures under a full SOE are the same. However, the government also has the ability to implement specific restrictions in targeted areas within a prefecture under what is often called a ‘quasi-State of Emergency’. Under a quasi-SOE, restrictions are designed to fit a targeted area and typically apply to businesses such as restaurants and bars, that are requested to shorten their opening hours and limit or stop the service of alcohol. A quasi-SOE often precedes or follows a full SOE being declared in the affected prefecture.

Through 2020 and 2021, many prefectures in Japan were under full and quasi-SOEs with the entire country placed under a SOE twice. For further information regarding Japan’s response to the pandemic, see ‘Important Information re Understanding Japan’s COVID-19 Response’ below.

3 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM


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Get the latest news and information about the roll-out of Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program including which vaccines will be used, when and who will be vaccinated, and whether you need to be vaccinated to travel here.

4 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PASSPORT


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Consistent with many countries around the world, Japan has announced its intention to utilise some form of digital vaccination passport in an effort to re-open its international. While the exact details of how this will work and which digital platform Japan will use are not yet confirmed, the government appears committed to rolling-out a smartphone app which travelers can use to satisfy the health requirement and allowing them to travel to Japan. It is hoped that this will facilitate opening of the international border in the near future. For further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport’ page.

5 / IMPORTANT INFORMATION RE: UNDERSTANDING JAPAN’S COVID-19 RESPONSE


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To date, Japan has implemented a range of measures at both national and local levels to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In order to understand Japan’s response, it’s worth briefly explaining how the country is administered and importantly, its division into 47 administrative prefectures. Understanding what and where these prefectures are, and how they are controlled, is relevant to international travelers during COVID-19 as what applies to one may not apply to another.

Overview of Japan’s administration

The administration of Japan is divided into three levels: national, prefectural and municipal. At the national level, the Japanese Government controls the country from the national parliament in Tokyo. Japan is a democratic country with regular elections to determine its representatives and the ruling party.

Beneath the national government, Japan is divided into 47 ‘prefectures’ ranging in size and population. Hokkaido is the largest while Tokyo – the third smallest prefecture – has the largest population. Prefectures are then subdivided into municipal categories i.e. cities, towns, etc. – the third level of administration.

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Travelers headed to Central Japan might be interested to know that Nagano is the fourth largest prefecture with the sixteenth largest population. It is however very much a rural prefecture and people are spread-out, meaning that Nagano has one of Japan’s lowest population densities, a fact that works in its favour when attempting  to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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The national government is obviously the most important administrative body in the country however the constitution also affords significant responsibility to each prefecture including education, labour, social welfare and health. While there is variation between prefectures in their administrative functions – i.e. taxes, schools, business conditions, etc. – most do not impact on international traveler.

The prefectures have the power to go their own way but it is important to note that the national government supplies the prefectures with up to 60% of their funding, which can be used a means of directing prefectural governments to follow the national agenda including closure of business and public facilities through declaration of a ‘state of emergency.

How is this relevant to international travelers?

For the most part, you won’t notice anything! But in the time of COVID-19, it’s worth noting:

1 / the national government determines who can enter Japan, for how long, and any requirements i.e. mandatory quarantine entrants are subject to. For further information, please refer to our ‘Traveling to/from Japan during COVID-19’ page.

2 / the 47 prefectures vary significantly in their make-up and impact of COVID-19. Restrictions placed on one will not necessarily apply to another. This is particularly relevant to ‘state of emergency’ status, which have until now applied longer to only a small number of prefectures, rather than the whole country. To date, COVID-19 has had a varied impact across the prefectures and it is worthwhile looking at the data by region. For further information, please refer to our ‘Traveling inside Japan during COVID-19’ page.

3  / and very importantly, to-date, the Japanese government has not enforced a lock-down on any area of the country. State of emergency declarations have applied to various prefecture and the entire country for different periods of time, under which closure of businesses etc. were requested however at no time has Japan been under a forced lock-down.

Why hasn’t Japan enforced a lock-down?

In response to the spread of COVID-19 in Japan, the national government revised an existing law – the Act on Special Measures Against Swine Influenza – in order to define and make state of emergency declarations; first applied to Hokkaido, followed by Tokyo and a small number of prefectures before eventually being extended to the entire country on Apr. 16 2020.

Originally designed in response to swine flu, the law provides guidance for which business and facilities should be requested to close but does not include powers to enforce closures – as it was not considered necessary when the law was first drafted in response to swine flu. As such, the current law does not provide the government with the power to forcibly shut businesses and facilities. Nor is there provision to punish those who ignore requests to close, stay at home, etc.

As result, Japan has never been in forced lock-down. It is important to note however, the ruling LDP has control of both houses of parliament and could therefore (if required) revise or pass a new law which includes the power to enforce lock-down of Japan.  To date, it has not been considered necessary and as of May 25 2020, a state of emergency no longer applies to any prefecture.

Japan’s health system

Japan has one of the world’s best public health systems, evidenced in the fact that Japan is the longest living country in the world. As the oldest country in the world, there were serious concerns at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak about the potential impact of a pandemic on Japan’s ageing society, and the ability of the health system to respond.

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International travelers to Japan can take confidence that they are coming to a country with one of the world’s best health systems and highest standards of care. However, given the considerable strain COVID-19 is placing on health systems and medical facilities around the world, it is important to understand what to expect and what facilities you have access to once you are here.

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Information regarding Japan’s health system including foreign language services, please refer to our ‘Healthcare & Assistance During COVID-19’ page.

6 / TIMELINE OF COVID-19 IN JAPAN


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The following timeline is intended to provide an accurate snapshot of the developing situation in Japan for international travelers:

May 23 2022: as of June 1st, Japan will double its cap on daily arrivals from 10,000 to 20,000. At the same time, it will introduce a new three-tiered system, categorising countries and regions into ‘blue’, ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ groupings, equating to low, mid and high risk. Travelers arriving from a blue / low risk country will not be required to undertake a COVID-19 test or undergo quarantine upon arrival, nor do they need to demonstrate their vaccination history. Those arriving from yellow / mid risk countries will be required to undergo a test upon arrival and isolate for three days at home or at their hotel. Travelers arriving from red / high risk countries will be required to undergo a test and isolate for at least three days at a designated facility.

May 23 2022: the government has relaxed their COVID-19 guidance by advising that wearing face masks is no longer necessary when outdoors and when not speaking or when there is little conversation. The advice applies to situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained. At this time the government is still requesting that people wear masks when in indoor public places and on public transport.

May 18 2022: the government has announced it will allow small tour groups to enter Japan from the end of May, in a trial period intended to test Japan’s readiness to open its border for tourism. To begin, only 50 visitors from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States who have been triple-vaccinated will be allowed to join tours, coordinated by travel agencies and chaperoned by tour conductors at all times on fixed itineraries. Travel agents including JTB Corp, Nippon Travel Agency and others will be participating in the trial period.

May 16 2022: Japan is set to pass 30,000 COVID-19 deaths once the most recent data for the weekend is collated. Japan reported its first COVID death in February 2020 and reached 10,000 deaths in April 2021 and 20,000 deaths in February 2022. The short interval between passing 20,000 and 30,000 fatalities reflects the impact of the sixth and largest wave of infections Japan has experienced to date – which peaked in February – and another ongoing increase in cases following the recent ‘Golden Week’ period of national holidays. On Friday, Japan reported 39,647 new cases, an increase of more than 18,000 on the week before.

May 12 2022: the government looks set to increase the cap on daily arrivals to Japan from the current level of 10,000 to 20,000 in June. The increase comes as the government is also considering a trial period of small tour groups from abroad, to test Japan’s readiness to open its border. A further increase of daily arrivals would be continuation of a positive trend that has seen it raised from 3,500 in November to 5,000 and then 7,000 in March and the current limit of 10,000 in April.

May 9 2022: the government is considering opening the border to tour groups as early as the end of May, on a ‘trial basis’ as it looks toward a complete opening to inbound tourism later in the year. The report follows-on for Prime Minister Kishida’s recent comments that the government is looking to open the border in stages, in consultation with public health experts. Under this plan, tour groups will be limited in size with their movements monitored in order to assess the feasibility of a full opening and response measures should a COVID-19 case be reported within those travelers.

May 6 2022: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has stated that Japan will ease its border controls in June. Kishida did not provide details of exactly how and when this will happen however it’s a meaningful development on the back of recent increases in daily arrivals and permission for international students and short-term business visitors to enter.


April 25 2022: Japan has reported 38,578 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, Sunday 24 April, a decrease of around 700 infections from the week before. This included 4936 new infections in Tokyo, a decrease of 284 from the week before as the capital reported no new deaths on Sunday, while 15 were reported across the country.

April 18 2022: Japan’s health ministry has announced that the first case of the XE strain of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected for the first time. The XE strain is a mix of two earlier Omicron subvariants – BA.1 and BA.2 – and was detected in a woman in her 30s who recently returned from the United States. It is believed to be 12.6% more transmissible than BA.2, which in turn was more transmissible than BA.1, and has led to warnings of an XE subvariant in Japan and potential seventh COVID-19 wave.

April 11 2022: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has stated that Japan does not have any plan to open the border to tourists at this time. COVID-19 infections again continue to increase in many regions of the country, including Tokyo, with another wave potentially underway. On Friday, approximately 52,000 new cases were reported around Japan – the fourteenth day in a row that the daily total was increased over the week before. Some of the largest increases have been experienced in regional areas such as Miyazaki and Oita in the south and Akita and Iwate in the north.

April 7 2022: Japan has announced that it will ‘lift the entry ban on 106 countries’ from tomorrow onward. This has led to some confusion as to who can now travel, with some mistaking the decision to mean that anyone from those 106 countries could now enter Japan for any reason. This is not correct. The lifting of the ban makes it possible for nationals of those countries to apply for and be granted a visa, and then travel to Japan however the purpose of that travel remains the crucial point. Persons applying to travel to Japan for tourism purposes will still not be granted a visa and cannot enter at this time. While this is a positive step toward a full opening of the border, there remains no official announcement as to when travel for tourism purposes will be allowed.

April 4 2022: experts are warning that Japan may be facing another wave of COVID-19 infections as 44 of the country’s 47 prefectures reported increases in their total number of cases over the past week. This comes around two weeks since the ‘quasi-State of Emergency’ status was removed from all prefectures under restriction. Saturday – April 2 – saw 48,825 new cases reported nationwide, and increase of around 1,500 from the week before and a total of 325,423 new cases in the past week, and increase of more than 48,000 from the week before.


March 28 2022: Japan reported 43,365 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, a figure up around 3,700 compared to the week before. It reflects a small but upward tick in new cases in Tokyo that goes against the trend of a declining rate of transmission across the country. Tokyo reported 7844 new cases and 9 fatalities on Sunday, with 36 people considered severely ill.

March 20 2022: as announced last week, the ‘quasi-State of Emergency’ applying to 18 prefectures has now ended, meaning that no regions of Japan are under that status. It is the first time in around 10 weeks that all prefectures have been free of restrictions.

March 17 2022: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that the ‘quasi-State of Emergency (SOE)’ applying to 18 prefectures will be lifted as scheduled on Monday, March 21. While hospital bed occupancy remains high in some prefecture, Kishida commented that the end of the sixth wave of infections is now insight. It is also expected that prefectural travel campaigns will be expanded to regional campaigns as of the beginning of April in anticipation of the restart of the national ‘Go To Travel’ campaign later in the year.

March 15 2022: the government is considering lifting the ‘quasi-State of Emergency (SOE)’ applying to 18 prefectures, currently under that status until March 21. As of last Thursday, the number of cases decreased in 15 of the 18 prefectures however hospital bed occupancy rates remain above 50% in several prefectures including Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and others. In deciding whether to remove the quasi-SOE from all prefectures, the government is attempting to balance the advice of health experts with increasing pressure to reopen all aspects of society.

March 6 2022: the ‘quasi-State of Emergency (SOE)’ applying to 13 prefectures ends today, March 6, while 18 prefectures have had the emergency status extended until March 21. As of March 7, the prefectures under the quasi-SOE status are Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, Kyoto, Ishikawa, Osaka, Hyogo, Kagawa, Kumamoto, Aomori and Hokkiaido.

March 6 2022: the government has announced that the daily cap on arrivals into Japan will increase from 5,000 to 7,000 on March 14. As the new academic year approaches, priority will be given to international students enrolled in study in Japan. There is still no announcement as to when the border will open to tourists.


February 28 2022: the current ‘quasi-State of Emergency (SOE)’ affecting 31 of Japan’s 47 prefectures is set to end on March 6. The government is considering extending that status in at least 10 prefectures including Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo while all other prefectures look set to have the status removed.

February 28 2022: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has again stated that his government is considering easing border restrictions. As of March 1st, travel restrictions are already set to be eased for some travelers including short-term business visitors and temporary residents including international students. Japan is seeing COVID numbers begin to come out in what is hoped is the end of the sixth wave of infections. In response, daily entries will be increased from 3,500 to 5,000 and travelers from countries including Australia, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand and the United States will not have to isolate upon arrival so long as they return a negative test result; while entrants from countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom will only need to quarantine for three days, as long as they test negative on the third day. There is still no announcement as to when travel for tourism purposes.

February 22 2022: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that from March onward, a limited number of business travelers and foreign students will again be able to enter Japan. The daily limit on entries will also be lifted from 3,500 to 5,000. Travelers who have received three or more vaccinations and are entering from a country in which COVID is not spreading rapidly, will not be required to enter quarantine. All other travelers will be required to self-isolate for 7 days however those who test negative for COVID-19 on the third day, and meet other requirements, will be able to leave quarantine early. There is no announcement as to when travel for tourism might be possible.

February 18 2022: the ‘quasi-State of Emergency’ affecting most prefectures in Japan has been extended in most of those areas until March 6. A handful of prefectures including Okinawa are no longer under restrictions with a couple of others added to the list. In total, 31 of Japan’s 47 prefectures are currently under this emergency status.

February 14 2022: Japan’s COVID-19 death toll has passed 20,000, almost two years to the day since it recorded its first COVID-related death on February 13th 2020. Recent weeks have seen a significant rise in deaths due to the continued spread of the highly-contagious Omicron variant. The significant majority of those deaths – over 80% – have been people aged 70 years and older.

February 11 2022: the government is set to announce that the ‘quasi-State of Emergency’(SOE) currently affecting most prefectures in Japan, will be extended in 13 of those prefectures including Tokyo. The quasi-SOE affecting all other prefectures will end on February 20. For prefectures including Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Niigata, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Kagawa, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki, the quasi-SOE will be extended to March 6.

February 7 2022: the government is expected to make a decision whether to extend the current ‘quasi-State of Emergency’, currently in place for the majority of prefectures, within the first half of this week. It has been reported that the government is considering extending the quasi-SOE for 13 prefectures including Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Aichi, Niigata, Mie, Kagawa, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki.


January 31 2022: Japan continues to set new records for COVID-19 cases, as Saturday marked the fifth straight day the daily total was the highest on record. On Saturday, the national total came to 84,936 cases – more than triple the daily cases from two weeks ago. Most people with newly diagnosed infections are recovering at home however there is increasing concern over the occupancy of hospital beds in large urban centres such as Tokyo, with the capital reporting 48.5% of beds are now occupied. Should the occupancy rate hit 50%, there are calls for the government to declare a full State of Emergency in the capital. Prefectures including Yamagata, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba and Okyama also set new records for daily cases over the weekend.

January 25 2022: Japan’s government is set to extend the ‘quasi-State of Emergency (SOE)’, currently affecting 16 prefectures to a further 18 prefectures, bringing the total number of prefectures under restrictions to 34. The newest prefectures to fall under this status includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Hokkaido, Aomori, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Ishikawa, Nagano, Shizuoka, Shimane, Okayama, Saga, Oita, Kagoshima and Fukuoka. It is expected that this status will apply from January 27th until February 20th 2022.

January 23 2022: a ‘quasi-State of Emergency’ (SOE) has been announced for a further 13 prefectures, brining the total number of prefectures under restrictions to 16. As of January 21st the following prefectures join Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima under this emergency status: Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Niigata, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Kagawa, Miyazaki, Kumamoto and Nagasaki. These 13 prefectures will be under restrictions until at least February 13th (the quasi-SOE for Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima is currently set to end of January 31st, however this is yet to be confirmed by the government). It should be noted that other prefectures have requested the government place their region under restrictions, therefore the total number of prefectures under a quasi-SOE is likely to increase in coming days. The measures come as Japan continues to set daily records for new COVID-19 cases, including passing 50,000 new cases for the first time ever on Saturday January 21st 2022.

January 17 2022: Japan confirmed more than 25,000 new cases of COVID yesterday, Sunday 16th January, the first time the daily total has topped that number since late-August 2021. Prefectures including Osaka, Hiroshima and Okinawa reported record daily numbers – the latter two prefectures already under a quasi-State of Emergency. Tokyo also surpassed 4,000 for the second consecutive day. The weekend also marked two years since Japan reported it’s first COVID-19 case. Since that time, Japan has recorded more than 1.8 million infections and over 18,000 deaths.

January 17 2022: In response to the increasing spread of the Omicron variant around Japan, the government is introducing a range of measures including shorter isolation times for essential workers and close contacts – to avoid a critical number of people being unavailable for work – and shortening the timeline for booster shots, from an initial period of 8 months to 7 months since a person received their second vaccination. This applies to persons aged under 64 years of age. From those over 65, an interval of only 6 months will now be applied.

January 10 2022: Japan has reported 8,249 new cases on COVID-19 on Sunday, with some prefectures such as Okinawa experiencing record numbers. Okinawa confirmed 1,533 new cases on Sunday, the second highest daily total following Saturday’s record high of 1,759 cases. As a result, Okinawa – along with the prefectures of Hiroshima and Yamaguchi – have been placed under a ‘quasi-State of Emergency’ with restrictions placed on restaurants and bars. Notably, the spread of the Omicron variant is being seen most dramatically in and around US military bases in Japan. In response, the US government has agreed to restrict the movement of military personnel off-base, limiting it only to essential travel. While no prefecture has yet been placed under a formal ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE), experts are warning that Japan is entering its sixth wave of COVID-19 with the infection rate expected to continue to rise across the country.

January 3 2022: Japan reported 554 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest daily total since the Omicron variant was first detected in late-November. This reflects an infection rate that is trending upward across the country and expected to increase following the New Year holidays.


December 20 2021: Japan has launched a COVID-19 vaccination app for smartphones. The app – ‘新型コロナワクチン接種証明書アプリ‘ or ‘New Corona Vaccination Certificate Application’ – that can be downloaded for free and once activated, will display the user’s vaccination history. It is intended for both domestic use and international travel.

December 19 2021: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has announced that the existing ban on entry to Japan by foreign nationals – other than those with an existing residence visa or special permission to travel – will be extended at least until ‘early next year’ in an attempt to prevent the spread of the ‘Omicron’ variant. Japanese citizens and foreign residents of Japan are still able to enter however must under quarantine once they arrive, with the period required and where they undertake quarantine varying depending on the country they are traveling from.

December 13 2021: Japan has confirmed an additional 8 cases of the ‘Omicron’ variant, bringing the total number of cases identified in the country to 12. The newly-identified persons had all recently travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Namibia or the United States. Overall COVID-19 numbers in Japan remain low – with 146 new cases and 1 death recorded on Friday – however experts are warning that the coming Christmas and New Year holidays could see another surge in numbers.

December 6 2021: in response to the Omicron variant, Japan has moved to further restrict entry by suspending all visas that have not yet been activated by the traveler by entering Japan, for a period of one monthy. An exception to this measure apples if the visa holder is the spouse or child of a Japanese citizen, permanent resident or diplomat however government clarification of this point has not been forth-coming and it has not been confirmed how or for how long this measure will be implemented.

December 1 2021: the government has confirmed the first case of the ‘Omicron’ variant in Japan with a passenger testing positive for it upon arrival at Narita Airport. The man – reported to be in his 30s – had recently arrived from Namibia and is now in quarantine at a designated government facility.


November 30 2021: as of today, Japan has significantly restricted entry by effectively banning foreign nationals for a period of at least one month. In response to the emerging ‘Omicron’ variant, the government has announced that only Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with ‘special permission’ are now allowed to enter Japan – regardless of where they are traveling from. Those who can still enter are required to spend 14 days in quarantine, even if fully vaccinated. The government has also reduced the maximum number of entries each from 5,000 to 3,500 persons.

November 29 2021: in response to concern over the increased virulence of the new ‘Omicron’ variant, first detected in South Africa, Japan has announced stricter entry controls for the following southern African nations: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Any person entering Japan who has spent time in one or more of those nation in the past 14 days, is now required to spend at least 10 days in a government-designated facility upon arrival followed by an additional 4 days at home or at a hotel – totaling 14 days of quarantine. At this time, there has been no announcement that the Omicron variant has been detected in Japan.

November 16 2021: Japan reported 79 new COVID-19 cases on Nov-15, the lowest total in around a year-and-a-half. The dramatic decrease in cases has been attributed to the country’s increasingly high vaccination rate and behaviour including the general compliance across the country with wearing masks.

November 8 2021: Japan recorded no COVID-related deaths yesterday – Sunday 7th November – the first time that this has occurred in around fifteen months. It comes at a time that Japan has surpassed 70% vaccination of the population and some border restrictions are being eased.

November 8 2021: as of today, the quarantine period for travelers entering Japan for business purposes has been reduced to 3 days. Travelers must be fully-vaccinated (with a vaccine recognised by the Japanese government) and on the condition that the firm inviting them to Japan complies with certain directives. The government has also announced that students and long-term business entrants such as technical trainees can now travel to Japan however the quarantine period for those entrants remains 14 days.

November 2 2021: Japan appears to be set to ease travel restrictions for short-term business travel and students as soon as this week, with quarantine reduced to as little as 3-days for fully-vaccinated visitors. There is no official announcement yet nor is there any reference to opening-up travel for tourism however it’s a positive step in the right direction.

November 2 2021: Japan reported only 86 daily cases on COVD-19 yesterday, the lowest daily total since June 2020. This included only 9 cases in Tokyo. The daily numbers reported on Mondays are typically lower due to reduced testing over weekends however this remains a positive sign as the overall spread of COVID-19 has slowed dramatically over recent weeks.


October 1 2021: the government has lifted the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) applied to all 21 prefectures in Japan. Restrictions will apply to opening hours and operation of certain businesses in individual prefectures, as decided by their governors, however no prefecture is under a full SOE – the first time since April that all regions of the country have been free of such measures. All prefectures under ‘quasi-SOEs’ are also now free of those restrictions as the infection rate continues to drop across the country while Japan’s vaccination program has caught-up to many other countries. With the vaccination rate now approaching 60% across the country, it is hope that restrictions on economic and social activity will also continue to be eased.


September 30 2021: Japan looks set to reduce the period of quarantine, for fully-vaccinated people, from 14 to 10 days and without the need to spend time in a hotel or other facility. It is expected that this will take place some time in October however the actual date and full details are yet to be announced. It appears that this will also apply to persons entering from ‘high risk’ areas, as long as they can provide suitable evidence of their vaccination history.

September 9 2021: the government has announced that the ‘State of Emergency’ currently applied to twenty-one prefectures across Japan will be extended until September 30. While overall numbers are starting to decline across the country, a large number of patients are being treated for severe symptoms placing significant pressure on the health system. It is hoped that the extended SOE will counter-act that trend while the government is simultaneously relaxing restrictions on businesses in the affected prefectures in an effort to free-up local economies.

September 6 2021: the government has announced that from December onward, it will issue digital COVID-19 vaccination certificates. While not all details have yet been confirmed, the certificates are intended to be used for international travel and function via a smartphone app and QR scan code.


August 27 2021: in response to the continued spread of COVID-19 in many regions of Japan, the government has announced an extension to the current ‘State of Emergency’ affecting thirteen prefectures to an additional eight including Hiroshima, Okayama, Shiga, Mie, Aichi, Gifu, Miyagi and Hokkaido. This brings the total number of prefectures currently under an SOE to twenty-one.

August 23 2021: Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program continues to speed-up with the country surpassing the landmark that more than 50% of the population have now had their first shots. The official figures as of Aug-23 are 51.3% of the population have received their first shot while 39.7% have received both shots.

August 17 2021: in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many regions of Japan, the government has announced that as of today, another seven prefectures are under at ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) including Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka. They join Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka and Okinawa – already under SOEs – bringing the total number of prefectures under an SOE to thirteen. Restrictions will remain in place in all of these prefectures until at least September 12. In addition to this, a further ten prefectures are now under a ‘quasi-SOE’ including Miyagi, Yamanashi, Gifu, Toyama, Mie, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kagawa, Ehime and Kagoshima joining the prefectures of Fukushima, Aichi, Shiga, Kumamoto, Ishikawa and Hokkaido under less strict restrictions.

August 9 2021: in response to the continuing spread of COVID-19 around Japan, a further eight prefectures will be subjected to stricter measures including restricted business hours for restaurants and limiting the service of alcohol. The prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga and Kumamoto join Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka under what has been labelled a ‘quasi-SOE’.

August 2 2021: the government has announced that the existing ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in Tokyo and Okinawa will be extended to the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Osaka. The SOE will remain in effect in all prefectures until at least August 31. In addition to this measure, the prefectures of Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka will be placed under ‘quasi-SOEs’. This means that more than half of Japan’s population is now under some form of restrictions in an effort to slow the spread on new variants, including the Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly. It also means that the entire Olympic Games will take place under an SOE while the Paralympics, set to begin on August 24th, will start under an SOE.


July 9 2021: the government has announced that as of July 12, Tokyo Prefecture will again be under a ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE). The measure is being taken in response to the increased spread of COVID-19 in the capital sinc the last SOE ended. Restrictions will be in effect until at least August 22, meaning that the Tokyo Olympics – set to take place from July 23 until August 8 – will take place under the SOE. Okinawa is the only other prefecture under a SOE, which will also remain in effect until at least August 22. Under the SOE, restaurants, bars and other dining establishments are requested to close by 8PM while also requested not to serve any alcohol. Shopping and entertainment venues have also been requested to restrict their hours or stop operation. Sports and other entertainment events must cap attendance at 5,000 people or 50 percent of capacity (whichever is fewer), while the Olympic events look set to go ahead with almost no audience in attendance (this is yet to be confirmed). Less strict measures, being called a ‘quasi-SOE’ will be in effect in Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Osaka until August 22 while the current quasi-SOE in effect in Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka will end on July 11.


June 21 2021: the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) applying to ten prefectures has been lifted in all but one of those prefectures including from Tokyo and Osaka. Okinawa is now the only prefecture under an SOE – a measure that will stay in-place until at least July 11. Seven of the nine prefectures no longer under an SOE will continue to have restrictions in place, including restricted serving of alcohol at bars and restaurants. Only Okayama and Hiroshima will not be subject to these measures, with all restrictions now lifted from those prefectures.

June 9 2021: in an effort to speed-up vaccinations in Japan, the government has announced that workplaces and universities will now be involved in the roll-out and it will soon begin to target younger people. Large workplaces with their own medical staff will be provided doses to begin inoculation while more than half of Tokyo’s 23 wards will start inoculating people in their 20s and 30s by the end of June through universities and workplaces. This group tends to be more socially active as continues to be linked to the spread of COVID-19 in the capital. The latest figures released in Japan show that around 70% of healthcare workers have now been fully vaccinated and more than 20% of people aged 65 and over have had their first shot but only 3% have had both shots.


May 28 2021: the government has announced an extension of the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in nine prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima until June 20. This brings those prefecture inline with Okinawa and means that all ten prefectures will remain under an SOE until at least that date. In addition, the anti-COVID measures some have termed a ‘quasi-SOE’ in effect in Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie will also be extended until that date however will expire in Gunma, Ishikawa and Hiroshima on June 13.

May 24 2021: a further SOE has been announced for Okinawa, bringing the number of prefectures currently under an SOE to ten. The SOE will remain in place in Okinawa until at least June 20. As referenced on May 16, Okinawa was one of ten prefectures under a quasi-SOE however that status has now been upgraded as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Consistent with measures in other areas, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will be requested to close while shopping centres, sports clubs and other business will be requested to close by 8PM in order to limit social outings by residents.

May 16 2021: the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) already in effect for six prefectures has been extended to Hokkaido, Okayama and Hokkaido. This brings the total number of prefectures under an SOE to nine. The SOE will remain in place for all nine prefectures until at least May 31. In addition, the government has announced anti-COVID measures in an additional ten prefectures – Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gunma, Gifu, Mie, Ehime, Ishikawa, Kumamoto and Okinawa – without yet declaring an SOE in those regions. The measures will also remain in place until May-31 except in Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto where they will be in effect until at least June 13.

May 12 2021: the ‘State of Emergency’ already in effect fro Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo has been extended to Aichi and Fukuoka. It will be in place until at least May 31 and puts those two prefectures under the same restrictions as the other four.

May 10 2021: the government has announced that the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) currently in-place for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo, will be extended until at least May-31 for all four prefectures and soon extended to Aichi and Fukuoka.


April 23 2021: in response to another increase in the spread of COVID-19, the Prime Minister has declared another ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) for the prefectures of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo. The SOE places restrictions on restaurants, bars and other commercial facilities and will remain in-place until at least May 11.

April 12 2021: the government has announced new measures for Tokyo, aimed a stemming the yet again increasing rate of COVID-19 in the capital. Residents of Tokyo have been asked to refrain from unnecessary travel and restricted business hours for bars and restaurants in what has been labelled a ‘quasi-State of Emergency’. The measures come into affect from today, April 12th, and remain in place for at least 24 days – a period that means restrictions will be in place over Japan’s coming ‘Golden Week’ from April 29th to May 5th.


March 21 2021: the government has announced the lifting of the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) on the four last prefectures – Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa – under that status. While measures will still be in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the lifting of the SOE means that no region in Japan is now under that status.

March 5 2021: the government has announced a 14-day extension to the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) affecting Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama. The SOE will remain in effect until at least Mar-21.

March 1 2021: the government has announced the lifting of the ‘State of Emergency’(SOE) from six of the ten prefectures that have been under that status since January 13th. As of March 1st 2021, the SOE applying to Gifu, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka has been lifted. Four prefectures – Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama – remain under an SOE until at least March 7th.


February 2 2021: the government has announced an extension to the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) for 10 prefectures – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gifu, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka – until March 7th 2021. Only Tochigi – which was also previously under a SOE – has had the status lifted.


January 13 2021: in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in multiple regions of Japan, the government has extended the ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) to a further 7 prefectures. The affected prefectures are: Tochigi, Gifu, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, Osaka and Fukuoka. The SOE will remain in-place until at least February 7th 2021.

January 7 2021: in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures, the government has declared a ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in four prefectures – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama. The SOE comes into effect from January 8th 2021 and will remain in place until at least February 7th 2021.


December 28 2020: in response to a new strain of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom, the Japanese government has announced that it will ban entry by all foreign nationals until January 31st 2021. To date, the new more virulent strain has been detected in at least twenty countries, and in an effort to prevent its spread into Japan, the ban effectively applies to all foreign nationals other than business travelers from approved countries and foreign residents of Japan. Persons already holding visas to travel to Japan can still do so, other than those who have entered the United Kingdom or South Africa in the past 14 days.

December 28 2020: international arrivals to Narita Airport now have the choice to use the Keisei Skyliner to Keisei-Ueno Station, with the front carriages of each service now designated for arrivals from overseas. Previously, the government had required all arrivals to use private transport from the airport – which could be quite expensive – but arrivals now have the option of using the train, but must use the carriages designated for them.


November 26 2020: the government has signalled that if the nationwide spread of COVID-19 infections is not reduced in the coming three weeks, they will have no choice but to declare a ‘state of emergency’. While no official decision has been made, the announcement puts the country on notice that should the situation not improve, a state of emergency will be reintroduce to at least some regions.

November 24 2020: news outlet Bloomberg has released a report into the countries which have handled COVID-19 most efficiently with the least disruption to daily life and their economies.  Ranking 53 countries with economies of over $200 billion on 10 metrics including the overall spread of the virus, mortality rate, the capacity of the health system and affect on the economy, the research ranked New Zealand first,  Japan second and Taiwan third. The report cites Japan’s previous handling of tuberculosis outbreaks and existing facilities and contact tracing which have been effectively redeployed to tackle COVID-19.

November 9 2020: the government has agreed to the resumption of short and long-term business travel from China from the middle of November onward, under the ‘Business Track’ currently open to nationals of Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.

November 5 2020: Japan has lowered the travel advisory from Level 3 to Level 2, for countries including Australia, Brunei, China including Hong Kong and Macau New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Japanese nationals and foreign residents of Japan will be able to travel to these countries – at this time, only for business purposes – and have the 14-day isolation period waived upon their return so long as there trip is less than 7-days in duration and other requirements are met.

November 2 2020: nationals of 11 countries – including Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam – will no longer need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan, so long as they have not traveled outside of their home country in the past 14 days.


October 22 2020: the government is considering allowing short-term business travelers – up to 72 hours – from countries with ‘deep economic ties’ to Japan to enter from November onward. This would include nationals of China, South Korea and Taiwan in a step mirroring recent agreements with Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam under the ‘business track’.

October 5 2020: announcement that South Korea is likely to join a handful of other countries in agreeing a business travel corridor with Japan. This would allow short and long-term business travel between the two countries.


September 30 2020: Japan has announced that it is likely to lower its travel advisory from ‘Level 3’ – a warning not to travel for any reason – to ‘Level 2’ – a warning to avoid all non-essential travel but allowing Japanese citizens to do so. It is expected that countries including Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei and Belgium will be on this list. It is the first time Japan will have lowered its travel advisory since the beginning of the pandemic.

September 23 2020: Government announces intention to loosen entry requirements for longer stay visitors – stay of 3 months or more i.e. international students – from October onward.

September 11 2020: Government announces that Singapore will be added to countries covered by the ‘travel corridor’. At this stage, it remains tightly controlled and restricted to short-term business visitors only.

September 8 2020: Government announces a ‘travel corridor’ will be opened for short-business visitors from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.


July 24 2020: Additional 17 countries added to list of those banned from entering Japan, bringing the total to 146.

July 1 2020: Further 18 countries added to those banned from entering Japan, bringing the the total to 129.


May 27 2020: Addition of further countries to the list of banned entries on this and the previous day brings the total to 111.

May 25 2020: State of emergency is lifted from all remaining prefectures – Tokyo, Satiama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Hokkaido.

May 21 2020: State of emergency is lifted from Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.

May 14 2020: Governments lifts state of emergency for 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. An emergency declaration remains for: Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Hyogo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido.

May 7 2020: Improving data leads government to announce that the state of emergency might be lifted on May-21.

May 3 2020: Government extends state of emergency until May-31.


April 27 2020: Japan extends entry ban to another 14 countries – a total of 87 countries from which entry is now prohibited.

April 17 2020: COVID-19 cases pass 10,000.

Apr 16 2020: Government announces state of emergency applies to entire country and will last until at least May-06.

April 10 2020: Tokyo government announces further closures to businesses and other organisations in the capital.

April 7 2020: Government announces state of emergency in seven prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Hokkaido.

April 3 2020: All entrants to Japan – both Japanese and foreign nationals – are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

April 1 2020: Japan Medical Association warns of pending ‘medical crisis condition’ due to a shortage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.


March 30 2020: Tokyo Olympics are rescheduled for July to August 2021. Tokyo residents are urged to stay at home.

March 26 2020: The Diamond Princess departs Japanese waters.

March 25 2020: Tokyo government announces first ‘soft lock-down’ of the capital including closure of restaurants, live music, etc.*

March 24 2020: Government announces that the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed for up to one year.

March 23 2020: Tokyo passes Hokkaido as the prefecture with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Canada announces it will not compete in the 2020 Olympics, scheduled for Tokyo in late-July.

March 22 2020: United States warns citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Japan. In response, Japan bans entry from the US.

March 19 2020: Japan imposes 14-day quarantine period on arrivals from 38 – mostly European – countries.

March 17 2020: Having previously been the country with the second most infections in the world, Japan is now ranked eleventh.

March 14 2020: The Central Japan Railway Company reduces service on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line – running between Tokyo and Osaka – to combat the spread of COVID-19.

March 11 2020: Government extends request to ban public events.

March 5 2020: Japan bans entry by travelers from China, South Korea and Iran.

March 4 2020: Total number of COVID-19 cases in Japan passes 1000, with 12 recorded deaths.


February 29 2020: First ‘State of Emergency’ declared in Hokkaido Prefecture and government announces first emergency financial package.

February 27 2020: Government announces that all schools across Japan will close on Mar-02.

February 26 2020: Government requests that all major sporting and cultural events are cancelled to slow the spread of COVID-19. Nagano Prefecture announces first COVID-19 case.

February 20 2020: Second and third deaths due to COVID-19, formerly passengers on the Diamond Princess.

February 13 2020: Japan reports its first known fatality – a Japanese national in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture – from COVID-19.

February 10 2020: COVID-19 infections onboard the Diamond Princess now confirmed at ‘well over 100’.

February 7 2020: Japan becomes country with second most infections – behind China – primarily due to cases on the Diamond Princess.

February 3 2020: Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined off the coast of Yokohoma after a former passenger tests positive for COVID-19.


January 31 2020:  Japan bans entry of foreign nationals who visited Hubei Province, China, within the past 14 days and advises Japanese to avoid non-essential travel to China.

January 28 2020:  First confirmed infection of a person who had not recently traveled outside of Japan.

January 24 2020:  A second Chinese national in Japan test positive for COVID-19.

January 23 2020:  Japanese nationals advised to avoid travel to Wuhan, China.

January 16 2020:  First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Japan – a Chinese national in Kanagawa Prefecture.

*Unlike many other countries, the Japanese government has not enforced a lock-down. Please refer above for details.