Japan made headlines last week when it removed the entry ban of 106 nationals but forgot to mention that it had canceled visa-free entry of all foreigners (all non-nationals of Japan require a visa to enter).
Business visitors and students have been the only two groups to whom Japan has issued visas, but now this small group has been slightly expanded.
Visitor visas are now issued to the following groups per Japan Times:
- Family members within the first degree of kinship to foreign residents who want to come to Japan to visit their family, as well as family members within a second degree of kinship to Japanese nationals and permanent residents. First-degree kinship is defined as children and parents, while second-degree kinship refers to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.
- Family members who need to take care of a resident of Japan who is ill, is having a baby or is in need of support in their day-to-day affairs.
- Family members visiting a resident of Japan who is near death, or those coming to pay respects to a resident who has passed away.
- Family members who need to accompany minors, or those who cannot travel on their own due to illness or other reasons.
Last week, the prime minister of Japan indicated that the country had no immediate plans to reopen for international visitors.
At least now, those with very close ties to Japanese nationals or residents can apply and get approved for a visa to travel to the country.
When the entry ban was instituted in April 2020, many foreign residents of Japan were not allowed to re-enter for months if they happened to be overseas.
Japan has slightly relaxed the entry requirements, and business travelers can now enter if they have an invitation from a Japanese company. International students can also enter.
Japanese nationals have been free to leave and re-enter the entire time, although there has been a cap on international arrivals to the country from 3,500 to 10,000 (raised last Sunday).
Perhaps Japan is finally open by Sakura in 2023?