Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from Japan and beyond:
<March 13, 2023>
- With Japan preparing to welcome foreign visitors for the cherry blossom season for the first time in three years after loosening COVID-19 border controls, excitement is in the air for the travel industry.
- Japan started easing its coronavirus guidelines on mask-wearing Monday, now making it a personal choice whether to don the face coverings as it seeks to normalize daily activities that have been under public health restrictions due to the pandemic.
<March 12, 2023>
- One in four people in Japan have said in a survey they will continue to wear face masks in all social settings, even after COVID-19 guidelines on face coverings are eased on Monday, citing reasons such as infection prevention and habituation.
<March 10, 2023>
- Coronavirus patients will generally be required to pay for their own medical expenses after the legal status of COVID-19 is downgraded to the same category as common infectious diseases on May 8, the Japanese government said Friday.
- The Diamond Princess liner returned to Yokohama near Tokyo on Friday for the first time since a mass COVID outbreak three years ago led Japan to quarantine those onboard and suspend the arrival of foreign cruise ships until this month.
<March 8, 2023>
- New foreign envoys to Japan on Wednesday took horse-drawn carriages to present their credentials to Emperor Naruhito, marking the resumption of the tradition that had been suspended for three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
<March 2, 2023>
- Washington's renowned cherry blossom festival will return to its full-fledged pre-pandemic form, with this year's predicted March 22-25 bloom peak coming earlier than usual due to the unusually warm winter, organizers said Wednesday.
<March 1, 2023>
- A foreign cruise ship docked in a Shizuoka Prefecture port Wednesday to become the first such vessel to arrive in Japan in about three years following a government-mandated suspension of cruises due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Japan has ended its blanket COVID-19 testing of visitors from mainland China as part of an easing of border controls due to travelers making the journey returning a low rate of positive results since late January.
<Feb. 28, 2023>
- With J-League fans allowed to once more fill stadiums to capacity and vocally cheer for their teams, the opening two weeks of the season have shown positive signs that venues are returning to their pre-coronavirus norm.
<Feb. 27, 2023>
- Japan will ease COVID-19 border controls on travelers arriving from mainland China starting Wednesday, the top government spokesman said Monday.
<Feb. 26, 2023>
- Arrivals of foreign-operated cruise ships to Japan are set to near the level seen before the coronavirus pandemic when their dockings to the country resume in March after a three-year hiatus, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.
<Feb. 25, 2023>
- A high-speed boat service linking South Korea's port city of Busan and Tsushima, the Japanese island that lies closest to the Korean Peninsula, resumed Saturday after a three-year lull due to the coronavirus.
<Feb. 24, 2023>
- Sales of manga comic books and magazines in Japan were estimated to have hit a record 677 billion yen ($5 billion) in 2022, but the rise was only marginal as fewer people stayed indoors than during the earlier years of the COVID-19 pandemic, industry data showed Friday.
Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - March 4~10
Useful resources for foreign residents and visitors in Japan
- Health ministry call center
COVID-19: 0120-565-653 (toll free)
COVID-19 Vaccines: 0120-761-770 (toll free)
-Interpreters available for English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; for Thai 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; for Vietnamese 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Health ministry's COVID-19 Vaccine Navigation website
- AMDA Medical Information Center's "Multilingual Consultation Service"
- Available in Simple Japanese and English, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Also available in Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese on designated weekdays. Check schedule here.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government's COVID-19 info
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government hotline
- Available in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (including weekends and holidays)
- Available via fax for those with hearing impairments
- Japan National Tourism Organization's "Guide for when you are feeling ill"
- Multilingual clinic/hospital search available in English, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese
- JNTO's "Japan Visitor Hotline"
- Available in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese 24 hours a day
+81-50-3816-2787 (from overseas)