The Japanese government announced on Friday, November 5th, that it will start easing coronavirus-related border measures starting on November 8th, with a focus on allowing business people into the country in order to normalize the economy.
In January this year, Japan shut down almost all new immigration, except for people with “special circumstances,” including for humanitarian reasons.
The shift in policy means that starting on Monday, people will be able to apply for new short-term and long-term business visas. Students and technical trainees will also be welcome to apply for visas to newly enter the country, but tourists are still excluded from entry.
However, visitors from three countries considered high-risk (Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, and Venezuela) are still barred.
Currently, the mandatory quarantine period is ten days for anyone entering or re-entering Japan. As of November 8th, for business people who are fully vaccinated, the mandatory self-isolation period will be cut to a minimum of three days. Students and technical trainees will still be be required to quarantine for ten days after they land.
Japanese citizens and foreigners who currently have a status of residence (visa) will be required to quarantine for three days.
Companies, schools, and other organizations sponsoring employees and students on visas are required to be responsible for ensuring that people follow the protocols for preventing the spread of the virus. This includes, for example, submitting their implementation plans to the relevant regulator and ministry in charge of their industry or field.
The shortening of the quarantine period, especially for people holding business visas, is meant to help support increased business activity and make it easier for people to go on cross border business trips.
According to SMBC Nikko Securities, the potential number of business travelers who could enter Japan due to the relaxation of border controls is estimated to be about 1.052 million. However, many Japanese companies are still wary of sending employees abroad (Source: Nikkei newspaper, November 6, 2021).
The policy change is also expected to significantly affect students and technical trainees hoping to enter Japan, as applications for visas for students and technical trainee will be open again from November 8th.
In the last year, immigration to Japan plummeted by about 99% compared to pre-COVID times. Many industries in Japan, including agriculture and fisheries, are highly dependent on foreign labor, especially people staying in Japan on technical trainee visas. In order to revitalize the economy, including bringing in foreign labor and all-important tourist spending, the government plans to continue to gradually ease border controls while closely monitoring infections.
The opening of the border to tourists is expected to take place gradually and step-by-step, including setting up effective infection control measures, private and public sector cooperation, and proof-of-vaccination certificates.
Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 5, 2021 press release (in Japanese)
Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 5, 2021 press release (in Japanese) — Quarantine rules for specific countries
Nikkei newspaper, November 6, 2021 (in Japanese)
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