Japan plans quarantine free tourism in April

Japan plans quarantine free tourism in April with a limited trial from then according to reports this week.

Yep, April. So apart from late-season options like Kiroro that pretty much takes Japow off the menu for this coming winter for most of us.

Kiroro kicks on till May, so that’s still an option © Matthias Fritzenwallner / Kiroro

Given Australia and New Zealand have been included in the countries which Japan considers safe for restarting reciprocal travel arrangements with – initially for business, then for tourist travel – the chances of being able to arrive there have improved.

The business and returning resident conditions are quite onerous, with lots of detail to be provided on the MOFA (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) website for the ‘Business Track’ and ‘Resident Track’ options.

Business travel started with Singapore only in September, discussions continue to widen that with other countries.

Residents, including many ex-pats with snow related businesses, have been able to return since September 25 subject to the quite onerous restrictions detailed on the MOFA website – see the summary of those below.

One key to both Business and Resident Track Japan entry is downloading their LINE COVID-19 tracing app, which you need to show you have prior to arrival, along with valid negative test results etc.

No doubt having the app will be part of any general quarantine free travel arrangements in future. Get ahead of the curve, get it here:

IOS https://apps.apple.com/jp/app/id1516764458

GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.go.mhlw.covid19radar

But of course Aussies still can’t leave the country without permission from Border Security.

While our federal government has been critical of state governments imposing internal travel bans, they have kept silent about lifting international travel bans. Having a business to look after should expedite approval, but recreational tourism like skiing is not currently cutting it.

This has lead to bizarre situations like that for New Zealanders, who can arrive quarantine free to Australia since last week, but we can’t go there .. Now NZ has got their election out of the way they should at least be able to sort that one out (and put 2021 NZ snow back on the menu in the process).

Hopefully they can co-ordinate things better and get reciprocal travel arrangements in place with other countries doing as well or better than Australia is in controlling COVID-19 too.

But at least Japan is moving forward with plans to re-open quarantine free tourism.

It’s only 274 days till the re-scheduled Tokyo Olympics, so that clock is ticking for them. They need to get tourism working safely well ahead of the games.

For skiers and boarders hoping for some Japow though it still doesn’t look good at all for main season.

Regardless, we’ll keep rolling out the best lines, best places to go, and most COVID-safe areas too in the meantime. After all, there’s always 2021-2022 ..

Worst of all though, we can’t help thinking because last season was such an unusually warm low snow year for Japan generally, they will bounce back and get hammered this winter. Bugger!

Skiing powder at Shiga Kogen
Higher areas like Shiga Kogen will still be skiing in April © Prince Snow Resorts

What you have to do as a foreign resident of Japan for re-entry; let’s hope tourism requirements are less ..

  • The receiving company/entity is requested to fill in and sign (Electronic signatures or personal seals are not accepted. Please use the corporate seal of the receiving company/entity) “Written Pledge (Foreign nationals – Residence Track)” (document for receiving companies/entities to commit to taking necessary measures to ensure that the additional quarantine measures are properly implemented). The copy of the original of “Written Pledge” must be sent to the traveler. It is the responsibility of the receiving company/entity to have sufficient understanding about the above-mentioned applications and necessary documents and to explain carefully to the traveler. The receiving company/entity should keep the original form for 6 weeks after the invitee enters Japan. If requested by the relevant ministry, please submit the original form.
  • The traveler must apply for a new visa at the Embassy or Consulates of Japan in his/her country/region of nationality (Please check the details for the application on this page.). The Embassy or Consulates of Japan will ensure that the receiving company/entity agrees on committing to the additional quarantine measures by checking “Written Pledge” (copy). (Note) Copy of the “Written Pledge” must be in paper, which includes printed PDF of the original.
  • Daily temperature check is required for 14-days prior to the departure. If any of common symptoms of COVID-19 including fever of 37.5°C or higher, respiratory symptoms, strong feeling of weariness (fatigue) are recognized, it is necessary that the trip to Japan be cancelled. It is not necessary to submit the result of this health monitoring for 14 days prior to the departure before traveling to Japan. Instead, this result must be included on the “Questionnaire” distributed on the plane.
  • The traveler must obtain a certificate of pre-entry testing result in the country/region of departure within 72 hours before departure (from the sampling time).
    (Note: This format (Word) filled and signed by one of the medical institutions designated and listed by the government of each country/region (in case such lists are available) is considered to be valid. So, in principle, please use this format. If the applicant cannot find a medical institution which accepts the above mentioned format, the applicant can submit an optional format document with the following information in English. Please note that in case any of the following required information is missing, the applicant may be denied permission to enter Japan as falling under the relevant provisions of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.
    (1) Personal information of an applicant (name, passport number, nationality, date of birth, sex), (2) Proof of authenticity of the COVID-19 test result (test method (only limited to the sample and test method mentioned in the format), result, date of the sampling, date of test result, date of issuance of the test), and (3) Information of a medical institution(the name and address of a medical institution /the name of a doctor/stamp seal(or sign by doctor)). In addition to original certificate (issued in print from), copy (issued and received electronically (such as by email)) is also acceptable. In any case, the certificate must be submitted upon arrival in print from. Please be sure that the certificate is printed on paper before arrival.
  • The traveler must take out private medical insurance (including travel insurance covering medical expenses during ‘their period of stay in Japan) before entering Japan unless they are registered with the public insurance system of Japan such as Health insurance and National Health Insurance.
  • The traveler must submit “Written Pledge (Foreign nationals/ Residence track)” (copy) and “Questionnaire” to the airport quarantine office. The certificate of pre-entry test results (original or copy) needs to be presented at the airport quarantine office and be submitted to the Immigration Office.
  • The airport quarantine officer and the immigration officer will check installation and set-up of the necessary applications (LINE, COVID-19 contact tracing and map applications). The necessary preparation in this regard must be completed by then.
    • The traveler must report to the responsible person of the receiving company/entity for his/her health condition every day for 14 days after returning to Japan. (The responsible person is required to report the traveler’s health condition through the LINE application installed in advance.) In case, the traveler is able to interact in Japanese and has a smartphone operated in Japanese domestic phone number, the traveler may install LINE and report their health condition on their own.
    • The traveler must install the COVID-19 contact tracing application designated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to their smart phone by the arrival in Japan and ensure that the application remains active for 14 days after entering to Japan.
    • The traveler must retain their location date through map application data for 14 days after entering to Japan.