Japan will test a limited reopening to some tourists from Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States this month, the first time the country welcomed tourists since the pandemic began.
While the update is good news for Americans wanting to get to Japan, do not pack your bags just yet.
The opening is just a test trial before a later full reopening—according to the Japan Tourism Agency, the goal is to “verify compliance and emergency responses for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to keep in mind.”
The plan, according to a government spokesperson, is to start with just 50 tourists at fist and to allow those groups to travel in tour groups, put together with the Japan Tourism Agency, on a fixed travel itinerary. The government then plans to monitor COVID-19 infections and test its response to infections, which it expects to be critical when it does fully reopen.
Should all go well, a further reopening could happen as soon as June.
All tourists must be fully vaccinated including a booster shot, have travel insurance, and also be able to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure and then to test again upon arrival to Japan.
At the moment, Japan accepts about 10,000 people a day, mostly “foreign nationals” who are entering “into Japan under the supervision of receiving organizations” and not for those traveling “for touristic purposes.” The government is also considering doubling the cap to 20,000 in June.
Japan Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito recently said in a press conference that “international travel is extremely important for economic activities and regional revitalization” in Japan.
Japan is currently on the third level of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) COVID-19 Advisory List. The CDC recommends travelers “are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to Japan.”