Japanese Border Update (Nov 2021)
It is with sad news that we have to inform everyone that while the Japanese borders opened on November 8th, they closed on November 29th. This is due to pre-emptive measures to prevent the latest COVID-19 variant "Omicron" from entering Japan.
The borders have closed
Like many countries, Japan has decided to close its borders for one month and await the results from WHO (World Health Organisation) on the severity of the new variant.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said closing the border is a "temporary measure until information about the Omicron variant becomes clear," adding "when dealing with an unknown risk, it's best to take every precaution."
Countries affected by the Omicron variant will have stricter quarantine regulations and must stay isolated in government-designated facilities for no less than 10 days with regular PCR tests.
Travelers from Britain, Israel, Italy and the Netherlands will need to spend six days in government-designated facilities, while three days will be required of those from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Ontario (Canada), the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany and Hong Kong.
Kishida, who spoke to reporters after discussing the measures with members of his Cabinet, revealed that a person who arrived from Namibia had tested positive for coronavirus, and an analysis to verify which variant the person is infected with is under way, but expected to take several days to get the result.
WHO has designated the strain a "variant of concern," warning it has a large number of mutations indicating it may be highly transmissible or pose an increased risk of reinfection to people who have previously caught the coronavirus. However, the National Chair of the South African Medical Association, Dr. Angleique Coetzee, who discovered the Omicron variant has said, "the hype" created around the discovery of the new variant is unwarranted.
While it is unclear whether existing vaccines are effective against the variant, Kishida said the government will carry on with its plan to begin administering booster shots later this week while looking to health experts to provide additional data.
The emergence of the variant comes as Japan has seen a sharp fall in the number of new COVID-19 cases for about a month, and Kishida is aiming to restart economic activity that has been restricted by the pandemic.
On Monday November 29th, Japan's confirmed new COVID-19 infections came to only 82 across the country, in stark contrast with many other countries battling surging infections.
The Current Situation
While we understand this is devastating news for the many students we have that have been waiting for almost 2 years to come to Japan. We hope that this one month travel ban will not increase.
Once the ban lifts we can process the Screening Certificate ("shinsa zumisho" 審査済書) applications and hope that they are issued quickly so our many students can begin departing. We will post updates if anything changes.