Japan eases entry policy for foreign arrivals

Japan opened its doors to foreign arrivals on November 8, a long-awaited development for the thousands of students and workers who had been unable to enter the country for months.

The government is relaxing entry restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases in Japan continues to drop. Daily totals have been below 1,000 every day since October 3rd, and no fatalities were recorded for the first time in fifteen months on November 7th.


Japan's borders had been closed to foreign visitors since January due to high infection totals at the time.

Tourists still won't be allowed to enter.

"We will assess the effectiveness of these measures and decide whether to reopen the country for tourism by the end of the year, taking into account the infection situation," deputy government spokesperson Isozaki Yoshihiko said at a news conference on Monday.

The government will keep a 3,500-person cap on daily international arrivals. This number includes Japanese citizens.

Immigration authorities say about 370,000 people with permission to stay in Japan are waiting to enter the country.

New five-tier assessment scale

The Japanese government is also changing the way it gauges the severity of the outbreak. The metric now puts more weight on the capacity for medical facilities to treat coronavirus patients.


A panel of experts advising the government on coronavirus policy unveiled a new five-tier system, saying an update was necessary as the progress of vaccinations and the development of treatments had led to a change in the infection situation.

Level zero means there have been no new cases, while the maximum level four means medical facilities are too strained to care for patients.

The panel says local governments should aim to keep their regions at level one or below.

Graph: COVID-19 Daily Cases in Japan

The head of the expert panel, Omi Shigeru, says most of Japan is now at level one, while the situation during this summer's "fifth wave" would be categorized as at level four.