Status of the Novel Coronavirus in Japan

This article was written in May 2020, and updated on December 25, 2020.

Situation of the Outbreak in Japan
As of 12:00 a.m., December 24, 2020
Number of PCR test positive cases: 204,317
Source: website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

Japan, like the rest of the world, has been affected by the novel coronavirus. Currently, Japan is experiencing the third wave of the disease, which seems to be coinciding with the winter season, and the number of infected people is increasing. Nevertheless, the harm has been less compared to Europe, the Americas, and the G7 countries. Due to the differences in the number of novel coronavirus tests conducted in each country; the definition of positive cases; and computing methods, it is not possible to make an accurate comparison between countries. Some have pointed out that the reason for the low number of positive cases in Japan is that, unlike other countries, it does not follow the procedure of conducting more PCR tests, but rather, concentrates on clusters. In addition, advanced public hygiene, and the fact that people are accustomed to wearing masks, are sometimes cited as reasons for the low number of positive cases, but this is not known for certain.

On April 7, 2020, a state of emergency was declared by the Japanese government, but unlike a mandatory lockdown, there were no penalties and the public was asked to refrain from going out. Restaurants were asked to shorten their business hours; live events, sporting events, lectures, and other public events were cancelled; and companies were encouraged to introduce telework and remote work. We at Trip Insight also began working remotely in April. The declaration of the state of emergency was lifted on May 25, and the number of infected people decreased, however the second wave in August caused a rise in numbers, and now we are facing the third wave, as mentioned previously.

With few exceptions, stores, cafes, restaurants, department stores, and hotels are now open for business as usual. Public facilities such as schools, museums and sports events have also reopened, with some exceptions. The Go To Travel Campaign, an economic policy to stimulate domestic tourism demand, was launched in July, and is said to have had a certain effect with 52.6 million overnight visits in the four months, through November 15.

Many people are trying to prevent infection by avoiding the “three C’s” (Confined spaces, Crowded places, Close contact); maintaining social distance; wearing masks; washing hands frequently; disinfecting; and gargling. Hotels, inns, bullet trains, railroads, airlines, and various other facilities and transportation systems have introduced the latest hygiene measures to prevent infection.

Restrictions on the Entry of Foreigners into Japan

In response to the spread of the novel coronavirus infection, restrictions on entry, visa issuance, and quarantine at the point of entry have been tightened worldwide. Since June, the Japanese government has been gradually easing entry restrictions, and since October, foreign students and other mid- to long-term residents have been allowed to enter Japan under certain conditions. Since November 1, the government has lifted the denial of entry for 11 countries and regions, including China and South Korea, and has allowed entry under certain conditions. These are limited to business and international students, and there are no mitigation measures for general international tourism traffic, as it continues to remain restricted. 

Measures To Be Taken If You Are Exposed To The Novel Coronavirus While in Japan

Currently in Japan, if you think you have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, you should first consult with the Novel Coronavirus Medical Consultation Center of the local government by phone, before going to a hospital or other examination site. If, as a result of the telephone consultation, it is determined that you may have the novel coronavirus, you will be sent to a designated hospital or testing site.

Information on novel coronavirus in Japan (links):

Links to websites with information on the novel coronavirus in Japan are listed below.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)/Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19 in Japan?/Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

Japan: Coronavirus Pandemic Country Profile

When Will It Be Possible To Travel To Japan?

A newspaper reported on December 6, 2020 that, “The Japanese government is considering accepting small-scale tours from overseas in the spring of 2021” (Asahi Shimbun). According to the report, the plan is to gradually welcome overseas visitors in phases. This would be in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics; the opening ceremony, of which will be held on July 23, 2021; and to begin accepting general tourists after the Olympics. That is to say, the plan is for travel to Japan to resume in the fall of 2021, at the earliest. However, what happens in the future will depend on the status of the infection in the world and Japan, the development and distribution of vaccines, and the system of safety measures.