Reports: Japan could announce full tourism reopening this week

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Japan could scrap its remaining tourism restrictions by October, with a possible announcement as early as this week. Endgame?

Japan’s much anticipated reopening has come in fits and starts, with the latest concession of allowing tourists on “non-escorted package tours” seeing little uptake.

However, the endgame could be close at hand. Per a report in the Japan Times (citing FNN), Japan may announce a full reopening to tourists as early as this week, scrapping arrival caps, mandatory visas, and allowing for independent travel.

Japan tourism reopening imminent?

Japan may fully reopen to tourists by October

While tourists have been able to visit Japan ever since June this year, would-be visitors have had to navigate three main roadblocks:

  • A daily cap on arrivals
  • Mandatory visa requirement (all visa waiver agreements have been temporarily suspended)
  • The need to purchase a package from an approved tour agency

Even though Japan no longer requires tourists to be constantly escorted by a chaperone, the revised system of “unguided package tours” remains a major deterrent. Let’s face it- travel agencies have their uses, but not everyone wants to use them. Moreover, the complex rules have become a breeding ground for profiteering, with some agencies charging exorbitant fees for the all-important ERFS (which is needed for visa application).

Unsurprisingly, take-up rate has been low. Japan may command a special place in the hearts of many, but there’s just too many hoops to jump through.

That said, things are looking up. The Japan Times reports that the government is planning to make a decision on lifting tourism restrictions as early as this week, with a possible implementation date from October 2022.

This would involve abolishing the daily arrival cap altogether, restoring visa waiver arrangements, and allowing tourists to book their own flights, hotels and activities. In other words, it’s basically be pre-COVID travel once again.

Will any COVID-19 testing be needed?

Travellers from Singapore do not require on-arrival testing or quarantine

Japan has scrapped the requirement for a pre-departure COVID-19 test for all vaccinated travellers. As a reminder, Japan defines “fully vaccinated” as individuals who have received at least three jabs of the following vaccines:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Bharat Biotech
  • Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Novavax
  • Pfizer-BioNTech

On-arrival measures depend on an individual’s travel history. Singapore is currently classified as a Blue List country, which does not require on-arrival testing or quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.

Visitors from Yellow or Red List countries may be required to take on-arrival tests or quarantine, depending on their vaccination status.

Blue List

🔵 Entry Measures for Blue List
VaccinatedOn-Arrival TestQuarantine & Post Arrival Test
NoN/AN/A
YesN/AN/A

Yellow List

🟡 Entry Measures for Yellow List
VaccinatedOn-Arrival TestQuarantine & Post Arrival Test
NoPCR3-day home quarantine + PCR or 5-day home quarantine with no test
YesN/AN/A

Red List

🔴 Entry Measures for Red List
VaccinatedOn-Arrival TestQuarantine & Exit Test
NoPCR3-day hotel quarantine + PCR
YesPCR3-day home quarantine + PCR or 5-day home quarantine with no test

If your 14-day travel history cuts across various categories, the restrictions of the strictest one will apply. You can view the categorisation of countries here.

Flights between Singapore and Japan

Flight capacity between Singapore and Japan is a shadow of its former self, though presumably airlines are waiting for the “real” reopening before adding more services.

Here’s what the schedule looks like for September to Tokyo Narita and Haneda.

SIN to TYO

Flight
(A/C Type)
DepartArriveDays*
TR808
(788)
1:10
SIN T1
8:55
NRT T1
1-3-567
NH802
(789)
6:10
SIN T1
14:25
NRT T1
1234567
JL712
(788)
8:00
SIN T1
16:10
NRT T2
1234567
SQ12
(77W)
9:25
SIN T3
17:30
NRT T1
1234567
SQ634
(359)
13:55
SIN T3
21:50
HND T3
1234567
JL36
(788)
21:50
SIN T1
05:50 +1
HND T3
1234567
NH844
(789)
22:10
SIN T1
06:30 +1
HND T3
1234567
SQ638
(787)
23:55
SIN T3
08:00 +1
NRT T1
1234567
*1= Monday, 2= Tuesday etc.

TYO to SIN

Flight
(A/C Type)
DepartArriveDays*
TR809
(788)
10:00
NRT T1
16:30
SIN T1
1-3-567
JL37
(788)
10:10
HND T3
16:20
SIN T1
1—–7
NH841
(789)
10:35
HND T3
16:45
SIN T1
-23—-
NH841
(789)
11:05
HND T3
17:15
SIN T1
1–4567
SQ637
(787)
11:10
NRT T1
17:20
SIN
1234567
JL37
(788)
11:30
HND T3
17:40
SIN T1
-23456-
JL711
(788)
17:55
NRT T2
00:20 +1
SIN T1
1234567
NH801
(789)
18:15
NRT T1
00:35 +1
SIN T1
1234567
SQ11
(77W)
19:00
NRT T1
01:15 +1
SIN
1234567
SQ635
(359)
22:55
HND T3
04:55 +1
SIN
1234567
*1= Monday, 2= Tuesday etc.

Singapore Airlines is also operating flights to Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

Scoot plans to resume daily services to Sapporo from November 2022, as previously announced. 

Award costs

If Japan allows for independent travel, frequent flyers will be able to use their miles to book their own flights once again. 

Here’s how much it costs to redeem an award between Singapore and Japan through KrisFlyer.

Redemption Cost between Singapore and Japan
(Flights on Singapore Air)
 Saver
(One-Way)
Advantage
(One-Way)
Economy27,00045,000
Premium Economy37,500
Business52,00070,000
First77,000120,000

While Economy Class award space on Singapore Airlines flights to Japan is plentiful, Business Class award space has mostly vanished for the next few months. It is possible to find the odd option on ANA however, if you’re lucky.

For an easy (and free!) way to search for Star Alliance award space, I highly recommend using Awards PNR.

Alternatively, if you have Alaska Mileage Plan miles, then a round-trip Business Class flight on Japan Airlines to Tokyo would cost 50,000 miles. Unfortunately, Japan Airlines does not seem to be releasing award space until April 2023 at the earliest, and even then it’s sporadic. June 2023 might be a better bet. 

Conclusion

Japan could be lifting its remaining restrictions on foreign tourists soon, with October mulled as a possible implementation date. That would certainly be welcome news for people planning year end travel, though I fully expect the price of flights and hotels to spike given all the pent up demand.

Is it really happening this time?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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jeff

i was skeptical, but so happy to be proven wrong! jpow after 3 yrs incoming!

singapore’s population will be halved in dec…

James Quek

Should have chance for me to travel hassle free in Feb 2023, yay!

Wong FV

Why does Japan not recognize Sinovac Covid vaccine. I got 3 Sinovac jabs and one Novavax booster. Do I need to do pre departure PCR test?

lmao btfo

bcos you got jabbed with the equivalent of normal saline

also will prevent hordes of chinese from flooding japan

Last edited 2 months ago by lmao btfo
hehehe

Because the country that relied on Sinovac is still having lockdowns. Shows how effective it is.

G___

Yes, you’d be treated as unvaccinated and will have to take a pre-departure PCR test.

Toh

Isn’t it great news? To prevent prcs from flooding to japan..

anonymous

Xenophobe.

lmao btfo

he’s not wrong tho

Anon

It is Japan. we do not question

Last edited 2 months ago by Anon
manu

do not believe japanese announcements until next year feb. japan is moving 6 months late than all developed nations.

kopi lim

China is even worse lewlz

Manny

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/bordercontrol.html

may wanna add that pre-departure pcr tests required for non-vaccinated or those with 2 jabs.

Mark

Finally. Those speculative reward redemptions I made for end March 2023, for Cherry Blossoms, are looking pretty good now. And I have not flown JAL in first before, so look forward to that too. Have already emailed the Roykan in Matsumoto that I had to cancel in 2020, and hope to have the accommodation bookings in place very soon too.

Mark

Actually there is quite a bit of award space on JAL – just that you have to fly ex-BKK rather than ex-SIN. And a few days in BKK on the way is hardly an imposition!

Anon

Third time’s the charm!

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