Japan plans to further ease immigration restrictions by exempting Japanese nationals returning from overseas business trips and foreigners with residency visas from the current two-week quarantine requirement. This is according to a report by the Nikkei newspaper.
People exempted from the quarantine will still be required to submit an itinerary detailing their whereabouts and to refrain from using public transportation. The easing of border restrictions is meant to make it easier for employees of private companies to travel overseas for business and to promote the resumption of normal economic activity in the country.
Prime Minister Suga has instructed testing centers to fully utilize their testing capacity as quickly as possible in order to accelerate the expansion of international traffic.
In line with the prime minister’s directive, additional relaxation of immigration rules is expected to be implemented this month.
How immigration rules changed starting Oct 1st
Following the implementation of strict border controls due to the coronavirus, starting in April, Japan began relaxing its immigration rules on October 1st. Here are the key changes which took place starting on the first of the month:
- Foreigners with a three-month or longer visa status will be allowed to newly enter the country. Permission to enter will be granted to nationals of any country as long as they have a status-of-residence of at least three months. This means that tourists will still be denied landing permission.
- The number of people (including both Japanese and foreigners) allowed to enter Japan a day will be capped at about 2,000. The airports at Narita, Haneda, and Kansai together have a PCR testing capacity of 10,000 PCR tests a day.
How to apply for the 2-week exemption from quarantine
The two-week exemption from quarantine is not automatic.
To apply for an exemption submit your itinerary to the inspection officer at the airport where you land in Japan, using the form decided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You’ll be asked to fill in things like the address of your office, the address of where you’ll be staying, and where you plan to go in the next two weeks.
Depending on the length of your overseas business trip, you may also be required to submit a certified negative test result from a test that was taken overseas (before you entered Japan).
You will also required to take a PCR test at the airport where you land. If you have a negative result you will be allowed to enter the country.
Special agreements with some countries
Japan has bilateral agreements with some countries, which exempt citizens of those countries from the required two-week quarantine.
- Business travelers traveling between Korea and Japan and between Singapore and Japan will not be required to do a two-week quarantine at either end of their trips.
- The United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands have also lifted requirements for a quarantine period for Japanese entering from Japan.
Other planned measures going forward
The government plans to prioritize the following immigration measures in the near future:
- To expand immigration to cover more than just business travelers.
- To further relax the rules applied to business travelers.
- Currently, in principle, business travelers have to come to Japan on private jets and can only stay for a maximum of 72 hours. In the future, Japan will allow groups of travelers to come by charter flights and to stay for a longer period of time.
- Currently, more than half the countries in the world are subject to a Level 3 travel alert issued by Japan, which means that “Travel is recommended to be cancelled”. Within the month, Japan plans to lower the alert level for some of these countries to Level 2, or “Refrain from unnecessary or non-urgent travel”. Twelve countries will have travel alert levels lowered within the month: Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.
- To improve immigration processing procedures at airports to strengthen immigration inspection and streamline the flow of people.
Source: Nikkei newspaper, October 7, 2020 (in Japanese)
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