askST: What do I need to know about travelling to Japan now?

Japan announced earlier this month that it will conditionally allow foreign tourists to travel without a chaperone. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Japan reopened its borders in June this year to leisure travellers on tour packages. On Wednesday, it eased more of its travel restrictions and will now allow foreign tourists to travel on non-guided tour packages.

The Straits Times explains the latest changes.

Q: Can I travel and plan my own trip to Japan?

A: Yes. Travellers can do so under a non-guided tour package offered by travel agents that are recognised by the Japanese authorities.

Under these non-guided tour packages, travellers must book their flights and accommodation in advance with these agents.

The agents must arrange round-trip tickets and accommodation for the traveller's stay in Japan. This means that travellers are not allowed to stay at a friend's or family member's home in Japan.

Travellers must remain contactable at all times through phone calls, e-mails and SMS.

Q: Can I book tickets to Japan on my own?

A: Yes, you can do so when going for guided package tours. But the Japan-based travel agency or travel service provider acting as the receiving organisation needs to be aware of your itinerary and monitor your movements from entry into Japan till departure.

With these tours, you can have free time in your itinerary. However, you need to meet your guide at least once a day.

Q: Do I still need a visa to enter Japan?

A: Yes. Visas remain mandatory for all travellers. Visas were not required for Singaporeans before the Covid-19 pandemic. Travellers from all countries must apply for a visa through the authorised travel agents.

It can take at least five working days to process these visas, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. Travel agents said it could take weeks for a visa application to be approved.

Q: Do I need to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test?

A: No. You need to take a PCR test only if you have not received three jabs of an approved vaccine. Japan does not recognise Chinese-made vaccines.

Q: Do I need to submit a certificate of Covid-19 test before entering Japan?

A: No, you do not. You no longer need to submit a certificate of Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours before you depart from Singapore to Japan if you have a valid vaccination certificate.

Q: Do I need to wear a mask in Japan?

A: It is advisable to wear a mask in Japan. The Japanese authorities have recommended that you wear a mask in certain situations. Examples include talking to someone outdoors within a 2m distance or when you cannot maintain a physical distance from others on a train. 

Q: Do I need to serve quarantine upon arriving in Japan?

A: The need for on-arrival Covid-19 tests and quarantine depends on which country or region you stayed in before entering Japan.

Japan allows entry from countries and regions where infection levels are low. These are divided into three categories - red, yellow and blue - depending on their assessed virus risk.

Travellers from countries and regions on the blue list, including Singapore, can enter Japan without taking any on-arrival Covid-19 tests or serving quarantine.

Q: What is the daily limit for all arrivals now?

A: The daily limit for all arrivals - including Japanese nationals, foreign residents and those entering on business and tourist visas - has been increased to 50,000 from 20,000 people previously.

*For the list of travel agencies listed under the Japan National Tourism Organisation Singapore office, visit this website.

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