The Japanese government declared a second state of emergency on January 7, 2021; however, a comprehensive entry ban that had been considered was not implemented.
Since June 2020, the Japanese government has gradually implemented special frameworks (Business Track and Residence Track) with several countries and regions in order to gradually restart and facilitate cross-border business travel and other necessary travel. Currently, 11 countries and regions are eligible for the special frameworks. In addition, on September 25, 2020, the Japanese government further announced, in principle, to incrementally permit a limited number of persons who hold residence status (such as students or dependents) to enter Japan from October 1, 2020, under the condition that such persons are hosted by a company/entity that can assure their observation of quarantine measures.
However, considering the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections and concerns about new strains of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the Japanese government announced on December 26, 2020, that it would suspend new entry of nonresident foreign nationals from all countries and regions from December 28, 2020, to January 31, 2021 unless there are special exceptional circumstances. Please note that foreign nationals who are subject to Business Track and Resident Track were exempted from this suspension. Please also note that resident foreign nationals with a valid re-entry permit are permitted to enter Japan because such resident foreign nationals fall under one of the special exceptional circumstances.
Responding to a further increase in the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections and serious concerns of a medical care system collapse, the Japanese government further declared on January 7, 2021, a second state of emergency for Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures. The Japanese government has considered to expand the new entry ban of nonresident foreign nationals to persons who are eligible for the Business Track or Residence Track. However, the Japanese government eventually decided to not to expand this restriction to nonresident foreign nationals who are eligible for the Business Track or Resident Track due to concerns of the impact on Japan’s economy
Under the current plan, the Japanese government will maintain this declared second state of emergency until February 7. However, the period of the state of emergency will be extended and the new entry ban for nonresident foreign nationals eligible for the Business Track or Residence Track may be reconsidered if the spread of COVID-19 infections has not subsided as the Japanese government expects.
Because all new entry of nonresident foreign nationals is in principle, suspended, embassies or consulates may not accept new visa applications and no visas will be newly issued during the suspension period. Visa applications for new entry that have already been submitted will be pending until the suspension period ends. However, visa applications for renewal for resident foreign nationals will continue processing. Applications for a certificate of eligibility to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan may be accepted during the suspension period although such foreign national applicants will not be able to apply for a visa and enter Japan even if a foreign national may receive a certificate of eligibility.
The Morgan Lewis Japan immigration team will continue to monitor the Japanese government’s announcements.
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 Business Track is a special framework mainly for short-term business travelers; it allows such travelers limited business activities during the 14-day stay-home period on the condition that travelers accept additional quarantine measures (such as submitting a “Schedule of Activities in Japan,” not using public transportation, and avoiding contact with random people or crowds).
 Residence Track is a special framework for long-term residents coming to Japan due to dispatch or rotation; it requires them to stay at home at designated locations for 14 days.
 Currently, 11 countries and regions (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, and China) are eligible for the Resident Track and four countries and regions (Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and China) are eligible for the Business Track.