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Japan Prepares Reopening Border For Tourism

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Since being closed to foreigners since March, Japan is currently in the process of preparing their international reopening plan and have publicized the countries they want to first lift restrictions for.

This article has been recently updated, scroll down to see October 2020 updates

Japan saw their first case in early January, much sooner than the rest of the world, but didn’t hit their peak until April.

Reopening its borders as soon as possible is a key challenge for Japan after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were rescheduled to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We can’t keep our nation closed forever,” a government source told the Japan Times.

japan reopening for tourism first to these countries

Japan’s current state of tourism: borders closed, but no restrictions on domestic travel

Japan lifted their state of emergency on May 25th and soon afterwards in mid-June, started allowing domestic tourism and inter-prefectural travel. While the country states that it is not ready to reopen for mass tourism just yet, there are countries they are preparing to reopen for soon.

return of internationl tourism to japan

Japan’s Plan for Reopening For International Tourism

Japan is currently preparing the reopening of their border to foreigners. They are in talks with fellow nations that have important political ties to the nation, as well as neighboring countries who currently have the virus under control.

Gion District Kyoto

In a recent statement on their official government tourism board site, Japan said this:

“A gradual reopening of Japan's borders is currently being prepared, starting towards countries where the coronavirus has been contained or which have important ties to Japan. Vietnam is expected to be first; Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Myanmar, Singapore and Brunei are some other early candidates. Entry will initially be limited to business travelers, experts and trainees. Students and eventually tourists will follow at later points.”

Shirakawa go village in japan with Trevor Kucheran

According to the Japanese government, they are planning to first reopen borders to:

  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • China
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Brunei
  • Laos
  • Mongolia

First, Japan intends to reopen to business travelers, investors and other essential visitors from the above countries, then allowing in students, and finally general tourists.

Travel contest to Tokyo Japan

What date will Japan reopen borders for international tourism?

A date has not yet been set, even for the preliminary list of countries above.

Update August 14: A breaking news report is a suggestion the reopening will start in September, but general tourism will not start at this time

Update October 6: A news story from the Japan Times suggests that general tourism may not resume until April 2021

Japan Travel Tips - 47 Insider Tips for Your Trip To Japan

Japan Business Track Updates

South Korea Business Track Update: October 8, 2020:

MOFA Japan and the Republic of Korea have reached an agreement to start the Business Track and the Residence Track from October 8, which will allow the resumption of business travel between Japan and South Korea.

Singapore Business Track Update: September 18, 2020:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan has just announced they will begin procedures for a Business Fast Track agreement between Japan and Singapore, starting on September 18. 

Nagoya Castle

Japan received over 31 million tourists in 2018, making it one of the most visited countries in the world. Japan has already reopened many of their tourist attractions for domestic visitors including museums, temples, shrines, gardens, parks, and even Disneyland in Tokyo.

Sources: Japan-Guide /

Related Article: Want to see what other countries are open? Read our complete list of countries now reopen for tourism

Disclaimer: Japan’s reopening news is ever-changing and being updated constantly. We do our best to keep this article up to date with all the latest information, but the decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.

For the latest reopening Travel News and discussion,  join our: Facebook Community

Article originally published on July 4, 2020 with updates

Greta Waterman

Tuesday 25th of August 2020

What if you are an American married to an Australian both living and working in Japan with residence visas, want to come to the US to attend brother’s wedding?


Friday 28th of August 2020

New official policy announced today: (link)

All foreign residents who leave or have left Japan on or before August 31 may re-enter Japan on or after September 1. Leaving after September 1 is as yet unclear.


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Japan has been extremely strict with regard to foreigners resident in Japan (I'm also a US citizen living in Japan and have been researching my options extensively), and currently residents do not enjoy the freedoms that Japanese citizens have with respect to being able to travel to countries subject to the entry ban (including the US). You can get approval to re-enter only if you have special circumstances: (link)

These include visiting relatives in critical condition or attending a funeral, getting medical treatment overseas, or appearing as a witness in court. I'm not sure attending a relative's wedding counts as an allowable reason, but you can ask.

Also note that US and Australian citizens, whether residents or tourists, can still enter Japan if they spend 14 days in a non-banned country, such as St. Lucia or Tanzania, which are open to tourists from the US. So if the current policy remains the same, one possible way to get back in would be to spend 14 days in one of these countries after leaving the US, and then flying to Japan without clearing immigration at any connecting airports. This might be risky though, if the country you're staying in is added to the ban later.

This is the official policy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: (link)

Sumudu perera

Wednesday 19th of August 2020

Hey Do you know when the Sri Lankan tourist can travel to japan near future please


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

@Sumudu: Sri Lanka is currently not on the list of countries subject to an entry ban; see the official policy: (link)

However, Sri Lankan citizens will need a visa, and any visas issued by a Japanese embassy or consulate in Sri Lanka prior to April 2 are suspended. I don't know how difficult it is to get a visa at the moment, but if you can get one, then according to the official policy you should be able to travel to Japan from Sri Lanka (without going through immigration at any connecting airports in countries subject to the entry ban).

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 19th of August 2020

Not at this time, sorry.


Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Japan never fully shut down its borders; it has only imposed a set of measures (1) restricting entry to foreigners who have been in any of a list of countries deemed high-risk in the last 14 days, and (2) suspending visa-exempt status and already issued visas for most countries. There are a few other restrictions, but they don't apply to many people, so I won't discuss them here.

The official policy is here: (link)

Regarding (1), this list has grown to 146 as of August 13. However, there are a number of countries that haven't yet been banned. This includes Rwanda, Seychelles, St. Lucia, Tanzania, and Tunisia, which have all reopened to tourism. In a previous version of this policy, transiting through a banned country, even without clearing immigration, was grounds for denial of entry. However, in the current version of the policy, transiting is ok, as long as one does not clear immigration.

Regarding (2), holders of passports issued by the US, Canada, Chile, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Mauritius, Taiwan, Australia, or New Zealand are still able to enter Japan without a visa: (link)

So according to the policy, it should be possible for a passport holder of one of these 10 countries to travel to one of the countries not included in the banned list of 146, stay there for 14 days, and then fly to Japan without entering any banned countries while in transit. Upon arrival in Japan, one would be administered a PCR test and have to quarantine for 14 days.

This is a roundabout way of entering Japan, but it is a possible avenue for entering as a tourist (or as a resident who would otherwise be stranded due to the strict policy).


Monday 19th of October 2020

Hello! I just happened to stumble upon your comment (2 months later) and I was wondering if you knew that this was still a possible way to enter Japan, as calling the Japan consulate in Los Angeles, I was told that I would still not be able to enter due to the country of my passport(U.S.) regardless if you stayed 14 days at a non-banned country. Thank you!


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Update: (link)

Japan has raised 13 countries to a Level 3 travel advisory (for Japanese people travelling internationally), and all such countries have previously subsequently also been added to the ban list for foreigners coming into Japan (i.e. denied entry if they've been in any such country, except for transiting without clearing immigration, within the last 14 days). It's extremely likely they'll do the same here, which would mean that Rwanda and Tunisia, which are among the 13 new countries, will no longer be options for staying 14 days if you want to get to Japan. This leaves St. Lucia, Tanzania, and Seychelles (only for certain low-risk countries) as options that are open for tourism at the moment.

It seems Japan is essentially adding countries to the ban list once their total confirmed case count per capita exceeds a certain threshold, so with Tanzania basically no longer reporting any COVID-19 stats, it seems Tanzania is, rather ironically, a safe choice for staying 14 days pre-Japan, as it's not going to be banned according the current criteria, unless Japan suddenly decides to ban all incoming travel for foreigners.


Tuesday 18th of August 2020

I am a Canadian citizen, but that's not the answer I received after calling their Travel Hotline listed on the Japanese Customs website. They said I won't be able to enter as a Canadian, even with APEC business travel card.

Kashlee Kucheran

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Very interesting, thanks for posting!


Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Appreciate your efforts... I am eagerly waiting to open the Japanese border for Pakistani engineers.


Tuesday 4th of August 2020

Do you know whether people in the UK will be able to travel to Japan anytime soon?

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 5th of August 2020

Japan is closed for everyone right now. We have no info on when this will change for any nation