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COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

This post is also available in: TW ZH

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 and statistics re COVID-19 in Japan

2 / Reliable foreign language information sources

3 / Important information re understanding Japan’s COVID-19 response

4 / 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.

Latest news and statistics re COVID-19 in Japan


As of July 6th 2020, Japan is reporting:

Total recorded infections: 19,667

Total recorded deaths: 977

The above data is taken from the covid19japan.com website, which also includes the numbers by prefecture. 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, please refer to the information below.

Latest news:

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

May 26 & 27 2020: further countries added to those banned from entering Japan, bringing the total to 111.

May 25 2020: the Japanese government lifted the ‘state of emergency’ from the last remaining prefectures. A state of emergency non-longer applies to any prefecture in the country (as shown above).

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.

Reliable foreign language information sources


When reading about COVID-19 in Japan, we encourage you to refer to reputable sources. We recommend the following websites:

NHK

As the national broadcaster in Japan, NHK is a good news resource including TV and radio services: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/.

The Japan Times

National newspaper with an English language website: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/.go

JNTO COVID-19 Advisory

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) website provides up-to-date information for travellers including entry requirements/bans: https://www.japan.travel/en/coronavirus/.

JNTO Japan Safe Travel Twitter

The JNTO maintains a Twitter account providing real-time information relevant to travel in Japan: https://twitter.com/JapanSafeTravel.

Snow Monkey Resorts

Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we will continue to provide updates and information regarding the impact of COVID-19 in Central Japan: https://www.snowmonkeyresorts.com/.

Important information re understanding Japan’s COVID-19 response


hospital-health

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.

map-of-Japan

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.

nagano-satoyama

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.

hospital-health

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.

hospital-health

Information regarding Japan’s health system including foreign language services, please refer to our ‘Health Care & Assistance in Japan’ page.

Timeline of COVID-19 in Japan


hospital-health

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

Jul-01: Further 18 countries added to those banned from entering Japan, bringing the the total to 129

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

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

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

May-14: 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-07: Improving data leads government to announce that the state of emergency might be lifted on May-21

May-03: Government extends state of emergency until May-31

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

Apri-17: COVID-19 cases pass 10,000

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

Apr-10: Tokyo government announces further closures to businesses and other organisations in the capital

Apr-07: Government announces state of emergency in seven prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Hokkaido

Apr-03: All entrants to Japan – both Japanese and foreign nationals – are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine

Apr-01: Japan Medical Association warns of pending ‘medical crisis condition’ due to a shortage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients

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

Mar-26: The Diamond Princess departs Japanese waters

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

Mar-24: Government announces that the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed for up to one year

Mar-23: 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

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

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

Mar-17: Having previously been the country with the second most infections in the world, Japan is now ranked eleventh

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

Mar-11: Government extends request to ban public events

Mar-05: Japan bans entry by travelers from China, South Korea and Iran

Mar-04: Total number of COVID-19 cases in Japan passes 1000, with 12 recorded deaths

Feb-29: First ‘state of emergency’ declared in Hokkaido Prefecture and government announces first emergency financial package

Feb-27: Government announces that all schools across Japan will close on Mar-02

Feb-26: 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

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

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

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

Feb-07: Japan becomes country with second most infections – behind China – primarily due to cases on the Diamond Princess

Feb-03: Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined off the coast of Yokohoma after a former passenger tests positive for COVID-19

Jan-31:  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

Jan-28:  First confirmed infection of a person who had not recently traveled outside of Japan

Jan-24:  A second Chinese national in Japan test positive for COVID-19

Jan-23:  Japanese nationals advised to avoid travel to Wuhan, China

Jan-16:  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.