Deregulation of Japan’s Immigration Relaxed- When to Start Travelling? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Deregulation of Japan’s Immigration Relaxed- When to Start Travelling?

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Europe and the U.S. are almost back to normal…

Entry into Japan for waterfront measures against new coronaviruses is finally being deregulated. Many Western countries have quickly removed the obligation to quarantine people after they enter Japan on the condition that they have been vaccinated.

Why did Western countries and other countries quickly ease their entry restrictions on foreigners, including tourists? What are the differences with Japan? We also interviewed travel experts to find out when Japanese people can travel abroad, based on the movements of other countries and airline companies.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida mentioned the easing of restrictions on entry into Japan at his press conference on February 17… (Photo: Afro)

The United States and Europe: “No quarantine” is common if certain conditions are met

Since the spring of 2020, countries around the world have imposed entry restrictions due to the spread of infectious diseases caused by the new coronavirus. All overseas travel, including business, travel, and temporary return, can no longer be done as casually as before.

In the beginning, most countries and regions around the world restricted entry to their own citizens, quarantined them for 14 days, and then tested them for the new corona at the time of entry, during quarantine, and after quarantine. 14 days was considered the maximum incubation period for the new corona by the WHO.

Gradually, however, some countries began to shorten or eliminate the quarantine period after entry into the country if certain conditions were met.

For example, in the U.S. mainland, the post-entry quarantine requirement has been largely voluntary since the beginning. Most foreigners are allowed to enter the U.S. as long as they have been vaccinated and have tested negative for the new coronas before departure. Hawaii and Guam have different entry regulations from the mainland.

The departure floor of Terminal 2 at Narita Airport in February 2022. There are still very few passengers, but more staff are visible.
Departure area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport, USA, in September 2021. There are still very few flights arriving and departing, but there are a good number of passengers.

Europe, especially the EU, has also quickly abolished the requirement for quarantine after entry. If you have been vaccinated, you do not even need a negative certificate, and some countries do not require quarantine after entry. As of February 2022, the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland are among those countries.

As of February 2022, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and other countries fall into this category. Even within the EU, there are variations from country to country, but Norway has eliminated the requirement for isolation, regardless of vaccination status. Turkey has been lax from the beginning, and most foreigners can now enter the country without any restrictions.

Asia: Strict entry restrictions are still in place. However, some countries are starting to accept tourists.

The pace of easing of entry restrictions in Asian countries seems to be slower than in the West.

However, Thailand has implemented a “sandbox” on Phuket Island from July 2021, ahead of other countries. Vaccinated foreign tourists can stay in Phuket without quarantine, and after seven days on the island, they can move to other parts of Thailand if they meet certain conditions. There are also reports that Thailand is in talks with China, Malaysia, India, and other countries for reciprocal quarantine-free travel. Thailand, which relies heavily on tourism, has prioritized the resumption of tourism over the “zero-corona” policy, which strictly regulates entry into the country until the infection situation settles down.

Thailand was one of the first countries in Asia to resume accepting foreign tourists on a full scale (Photo: Afro)

India has also abolished the requirement for quarantine after entry, although a negative certificate is required before departure from November 2021.

In Malaysia, people can enter the country for tourism purposes only through the Langkawi International Travel Bubble to Langkawi Island. Taiwan, which had strict entry regulations, also recently announced a relaxation policy that prioritizes shortening the quarantine period and resuming accepting foreign tourists.

The Philippines already permits entry for tourism purposes for visa-exempt countries.

However, many other countries and regions, such as China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, still have strict entry restrictions and quarantine obligations. Among them, there is a gradual move toward easing restrictions.

Airlines: Still cautious about increasing flights on international routes in Asia

In Europe and the U.S., where there is virtually no quarantine requirement after entry into the country, demand for air travel is already returning to pre-Corona levels. On the other hand, Asian countries and other regions still have strict entry restrictions in place, so the recovery of flights has been delayed.

In a press release issued on February 14, 2022, ANA stated that it “judged that it will continue to take some time for full-scale recovery of demand due to the impact of the new coronavirus infection” for international flights. ” was 23% in February and 24% even in June, indicating that the airline is still cautious about increasing flights.

JAL also announced in its press release on February 15, 2022 that the “flight reduction rate” for international flights will be 71% in March, 71% in April, 69% in May, and 70% in June, indicating that the status quo will continue for some time yet.

Outline of ANA international flights from February to June 2022 (from ANA’s press release)

The same is true for foreign airlines serving Japan.

On February 17, 2022, Finnair announced its summer schedule operation plan. In a press release, the airline said, “We have made adjustments from the original plan, such as reducing the number of flights on some routes and delaying the start and restart of flights.

United Airlines has also postponed the resumption of flights to and from Haneda on the Los Angeles-Newark-San Francisco route, and to and from Narita on the Denver-Honolulu route until the start of its summer schedule on March 26.

Air New Zealand has published a roadmap on its official website in response to the government’s plan to ease immigration restrictions. The roadmap is easy to understand: “Other than New Zealand citizenship and permanent resident status holders, general visitors from Japan without specific entry visas are expected to be able to enter New Zealand from July 2022.

From Air New Zealand’s official website

The difference between Japan, which closed its doors to the rest of the world, and the West, which opened its doors to the rest of the world, is…

Even though Japan is a “closed country” with strict entry restrictions, foreigners are still allowed to visit Western countries for travel purposes, although there are certain conditions.

In Europe and the U.S., there is no quarantine for those who have been vaccinated, while for those who have not been vaccinated, a negative certificate and quarantine are required before departure. in the EU, there are restrictions on the use of restaurants and public facilities without a “vaccine pass,” which is issued after a certain number of vaccinations. From the beginning, the easing of restrictions on entry into the EU was based on the idea of vaccines.

Japan began issuing vaccine passports in July 2021, but it is unlikely that people will be asked to present them when visiting restaurants or other public facilities in Japan. When entering Japan from overseas, even those who had already received two doses of the vaccine were, for a while, self-quarantined under the same conditions as those who had not been vaccinated. In addition, when it was discovered that the mutated strains of Delta that spread the infection were brought in from overseas, the Japanese government was quick to ban foreigners from entering the country, probably out of consideration for public opinion.

The editor-in-chief of a newspaper specializing in travel told us, “Overseas travel may unexpectedly resume.

What will happen to overseas travel in the near future? Actually, you can still go abroad. However, the obligation to quarantine yourself after returning home is the biggest obstacle for many Japanese residents. Before returning to Japan, they have to take a PCR test locally and submit a negative certificate on a form designated by the Japanese government.

In response to the news of the easing of immigration restrictions, I spoke with Kazuyuki Tomimoto, editor-in-chief of Travel News at, about the future prospects for overseas travel.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) forecast for the return of international air travel demand has recently been extended from 2024 to 2026. Without an increase in the number of flights, it will be difficult for anyone to travel overseas as the price of airline tickets will remain high.

The Asuka II, which docks at Yokohama Port, is highly popular for round-the-world cruises. Photo taken in August 2021.

I personally think that cruise travel will be the start of a return to demand for overseas travel in Japan,” he said.

In the wake of the February 2020 incident aboard the Diamond Princess, cruise lines are taking thorough measures to prevent infection.

Moreover, cruise passengers are traditionally wealthy people with plenty of time on their hands. There may be cases of stopping at ports of call using the bubble method. For travel agencies, it is also easier to sell cruises as packages than tours (which have unstable local companies and staff) right now.

If all goes well, the cruise market will be post-Corona by the end of this year, and we may be able to expand the range of participants to include younger people.

That’s what I’m hoping for.

I have been away from overseas travel for more than two years. Japan is finally moving toward the “opening up” of the country. It is still a long way from the pre-Corona days, but we can say that there is a glimmer of light.

The information and data in this article are current as of February 22, 2022.

For Aki Shikama’s website, click here.

  • Text and photos (except as noted) Aki Shikama / Aki Shikama

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