Japan to consider scrapping requirement for pre-departure negative COVID test for border entry

The Japanese government may soon do away with the requirement to show proof of a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test result when entering or returning to Japan.

The Nikkei newspaper reports that in an online press conference given on August 22, Prime Minister Kishida said that in order to reduce the burden on public health centers and medical institutions, the government will announce measures in the next few days designed to further relax border restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

For example, one key change would be that people who have been vaccinated may be exempt from having to show proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of departing for Japan. This requirement and the accompanying documentation has been criticized for being inconvenient and costly. It has also been pointed out that in some countries, it is becoming difficult to get the required test and documentation, as more countries are winding down the number of testing facilities.

The pre-departure testing requirement has also been criticized for making it burdensome for people to go on overseas business trips and for inbound tourists.

Japan has the strictest border entry requirements among major developed countries. In principle, entries from almost all countries and regions are suspended.

Currently, people from some countries and regions can come to Japan for tourism but only if they book their visit through a travel agency as part of specific tour packages.

Otherwise, new entries are limited to individuals coming for short-term (three months or less) business trips or for long-term stay, if they are sponsored by a company to work or for a school to study.

The government is also considering raising the daily limit of people being allowed to enter or re-enter Japan, which is currently set at 20,000.

Current requirements

The requirements for COVID testing upon arrival in the country and home quarantine are different for each of the groups, as detailed in the chart below.

Country classification

The country classification by color was announced on May 26th by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health.

Source: Nikkei newspaper, August 22, 2022 (in Japanese)

Photo credit: Haneda Airport July 31, 2021, iStock/Stossi mammot

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