Can Americans Travel To Japan? An Outline of the Current Covid-19 Situation

tori, japanese, shrine
tori, japanese, shrine

I remember when my parents were scheduled to arrive in Tokyo Haneda Airport in early October of last year. There WAS a time when, at the first signs of the pandemic, the idea of being able to travel again within a year didn’t seem like nearly as far-fetched of an idea. Oh, how jaded I have become. The humanity! Anyways, Now here I sit, mid-April 2021, and, unfortunately, the short answer is…

As of right now, Travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the short term. Visa-free travel is suspended. You still cannot travel to Japan from the US, barring some urgent circumstance.

So how is the current covid-19 situation in Japan, and when is this likely to change?

Unfortunately, confirming the tentative plan-of-rollout for vaccines in Japan doesn’t exactly invite feelings of optimism. Two months since beginning vaccination, less than 1% of the total population of the country has been vaccinated. On April 12th the government began vaccinations for elderly citizens over 65 years old. Long story short, the future prospects for the remainder of the year could be better, to say the least… As a 25-year-old foreign resident with no pre-existing medical conditions, my hope of getting the vaccine in next 3 months, even, is looking more and more dim as the months roll by.

The covid-19 situation in Japan never got quite as serious as in most others countries. The flip side of this, however, is that the government doesn’t seem to be handling the situation (conjecture) with the same level of urgency as other countries. As a result, the vaccine rollout is taking a very , very , long time.

So when will Japan likely open up to American tourists?

Below is the tentative schedule for vaccine rollout in Japan.

May: Japan is set to receive 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between May and June.

June: Prime Minister Suga is aiming to secure enough vaccines to treat all senior residents by the end of June. In addition, while vaccination from participants will not be required, preparations for the Tokyo ‘2020’ Olympics are likely to ramp up around this time (Tokyo Olympics will be held from Fri, Jul 23, 2021 – Sun, Aug 8, 2021)

July: Treatment for the general public begins. All residents age 16 and older, including foreign residents, are eligible for the free vaccine. This will likely be the beginning of any really change as far as policy is concerned, with the end of the Tokyo Olympics possibly serving as the symbolic reopening of Japan to the world. This is all own personal conjecture, fueled by years and years off green tea-doused dreams and life in Japan. This just seems like something the government here would do based off of their track record.

So, there you go. Heaps and mounds galore of my own personal biased opinion, based on some empirical facts from a ‘tentative’ schedule that I wish was much less ‘tentative’, and much more ‘Here’s a vaccine and a free subsidized massage straight from the Japanese government.’

To answer the question you may or may not have, things are unlikely to change before July when the vaccine is available to the general public. I will be sure to make another post if there are any major changes.

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