When is Japan reopening international travel and welcoming visitors back? No one knows, that’s the bad news.

The good news, is that more about Japan’s approach to reopening travel is bubbling to the surface, as the perennial favorite seeks bilateral travel agreements with a selection of other countries. That, and vaccination figures are finally catching up.

There’s no specific date in sight yet, but here’s everything you need to know about how Japan plans to reopen travel, and some “best guess” ideas as to when that might be, based on vaccination timelines and government statements.

Japan Seeks Mutual Travel Arrangements With 10 Countries

Japan is seeking for its vaccination passport to be accepted by at least 10 countries. The idea is for Japanese travelers bearing proof of full vaccination to be able to bypass testing or quarantine when entering any of these countries, which are said to include France, Greece, Italy, the UK, USA and more.

According to the Japan Times, the current snag is that in the interim, until Japan hits higher vaccination numbers, authorities are seeking a one way street. If and when they do open travel, Japanese authorities want to quarantine visitors, even those who are fully vaccinated.

Japan expects to begin issuing its citizens and residents with vaccination passports by the end of July, but travel opportunities will likely lag well beyond that date. Basically, don’t plan for summer, unless you’re an Olympian. Even then…

Japan’s Vaccine Timeline Points To Potential Dates

Japan now has over 20% of the population fully vaccinated. The country is playing catch up to leaders such as Israel, the United Kingdom and United States, but things are rapidly changing.

According to Japanese vaccination czar, Taro Kono, Japan will have enough doses to vaccinate everyone over the age of 16 by the end of September. By November, Japan expects to have offered all residents a chance to be vaccinated.

As covid-19 vaccination helps to bring case drops and mitigate worst outcomes, pressure will mount to open travel both ways. Japan may also soften its stance on requiring vaccinated visitors to endure any quarantine period, which is the current hold up in negotiations with key partners.

Japan’s Travel Reopening: Best Guesses

Assuming vaccine hesitancy in Japan is less severe than that found in the United States, Japan will likely catch leading nations rather quickly. Most countries have eased covid-19 restrictions around 40-50% vaccination.

The Japan Times states that Israel won’t allow quarantine free travel for vaccinated Japanese visitors until visitors from Israel receive reciprocity. The United States relaxed most covid-19 restrictions, including masks for vaccinated people indoors at circa 40% vaccination. The UK just lifted restrictions and eased quarantines at over 50%.

If Japan stays on track with rollout, the end of September could signal rumblings of a return to quarantine free travel to Japan, and opportunities in both directions, at least for country partners with which Japan forges mutual agreements.

By October, when both Japan and key travel partners have even higher rates of vaccination success, and more secured digital proof to validate vaccination status, it’d be hard to make a logical case for why keeping travel quarantines, or bans would make sense. Not that that necessarily stops countries from doing so.

Europe is rapidly rolling out its EU vaccination passport, which provides a secured and digital for all travelers, even those from abroad, to verify their vaccination data. In the USA, individual states have their own digital apps with proof of vaccination. The UK uses the NHS app to prove vaccination status.

Best guess? Japan will start to think about reopening tourism, or setting a date to do so by the end of September. By October, it could be open to fully vaccinated visitors from select countries. Could it be sooner? Let’s hope.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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