Japan to Stop New Entry of All Foreigners, Including Travellers from Countries with Special Agreement

The Asahi newspaper reports that the Japanese government is considering suspending the new entry of business people, international students, and technical trainees from 11 countries, including China and South Korea, regardless of whether or not the highly contagious mutant of the coronavirus is confirmed in the country. The report is based on interviews with government sources.

This would virtually stop the new entry of foreigners to Japan all together. On December 26th Japan had announced suspension of new entry of foreigners from all countries starting midnight December 28th to the end of January, except for business travelers from 11 countries already approved for entry through a business travel framework.

Subsequently, at his January 4th news conference, Prime Minister Suga said that Japan would suspend the business travel framework if the mutant form of the virus were identified in the country (of origin of the traveller). However, this policy was apparently criticized by members of both the LDP and the opposition.

According to government sources, the policy has now been adjusted to suspend, at a minimum, all special bilateral travel agreements during the state-of-emergency that will go into effect starting on January 7th.

The suspension would apply to 11 countries with which Japan has a special bilateral agreement that allows the new entry of business people, international students, and technical interns. The countries are:

  • Thailand, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and China

According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, from December 14th to 20th, 2020, several thousand immigrants from these countries were allowed to enter Japan under the relaxed immigration rules, including 3,830 people from China, 3,390 people from Viet Nam, and 340 people from South Korea.

Up until the December 26th announcement to freeze new entry of foreigners, the government had been gradually easing entry rules. The suspension of new entry to Japan does not apply to Japanese and foreigners who currently hold statuses of residence. Also foreigners who have special circumstances, including for humanitarian reasons, will continue to be allowed to enter Japan on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Asahi newspaper, January 5, 2021 (in Japanese)

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