Omicron Impact: Japan Extends Re-tightened Restrictions on Entries

January 14, 2022

The Japanese government has extended the restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals into the country until the end of February.

Two-Month Extension of Restrictions

From November 30, 2021, Japan effectively banned the entry of foreign nationals who have stayed in designated countries/regions[1] within the previous 14 days unless they were under “special circumstances.” These measures were planned to continue until December 31, 2021. However, considering the rapid spread of Omicron infection, the Japanese government announced on January 11 that the restrictions would continue through the end of February 2022.

Under the measures, the use of the relaxed entry framework under pre-clearance from relevant ministries—introduced last November—will be suspended. The relaxed treatment for COVID-19 vaccination certificate holders’ activities also will be suspended until the end of February. (Read our prior LawFlash on the relaxed restrictions.)

‘Special Circumstances’ Allowing Possible Entry

Foreign nationals under “special circumstances”[2] may be exempted from the entry ban.

The criteria to meet the “special circumstances” has been narrowly tailored and adjusted to the COVID-19 situation and, under current operations, there are no “special circumstances” that accommodate general business activities.

As of January 12, 2022, foreign nationals under “special circumstances” include those who

  • have re-entry permission;
  • have newly entered Japan and have either (1) left Japan by August 31, 2020 with re-entry permission and have not been able to enter Japan before the re-entry permission expired, (2) are spouses and/or children of Japanese citizens or permanent residents in Japan (“eijusha”), or (3) are spouses and/or children of “teijusha” (i.e., a foreign national living in Japan with certain special categories of legitimate residence status[3]) who are located outside Japan and whose family members are living separately in Japan and outside Japan;
  • hold or seek resident status of “diplomat” or “official”; and
  • have compelling reasons from a human rights perspective or whose entry meets compelling urgent public needs (e.g., a vaccine development engineer).

The framework of entries of foreign nationals from this March is anticipated to primarily depend on the infection status of COVID-19 going forward. Close monitoring over the situation would still be needed in terms of foreigners’ entry into Japan. 

Mai Ishii (Licensed Professional – Administrative Procedure) and Ayako Hiraiwa (Licensed Professional – Commercial Registrations & Administrative Procedure) contributed to this LawFlash.

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If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Tomoko Fuminaga

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly
Vivien Yu

[1] As of January 12, 2022, 162 countries/regions are designated

[2] Read the overview issued by the government (Japanese language only)

[3] Foreign nationals who are permitted to reside in Japan based on designated status or special permission of the Minister of Justice