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  • Writer's picturegordonjcampbell

You must travel to Japan? Be prepared, be honest

If you must visit Japan for any reason, you'll need to be aware of the restrictions on travelers enforced since the outbreak of COVID-19.

As the coronavirus casualty count continues to increase in Tokyo, we're witnessing an ever-evolving and somewhat organic response to the crisis. (This doesn’t help if you’re planning to move to Japan, must do business in the country, or have relatives to meet.)

I want to share one recent and disturbing case which might shine a light on the risks inherent with travel to Japan and possibly other countries. This one is wrong on so many levels.

A couple employed by the US Government arrived at Narita International Airport in Chiba, which is about one hour from Tokyo. Before clearing immigration, Japanese authorities recorded their body temperatures, technicians took nasal swab samples and promised laboratory test results within twenty-four hours.

The immigration officials and health authorities asked detailed questions about the couple's travel itinerary.

The couple explained their intent to travel to their new post to work as teachers and planned to go by rental car to Iwakuni, a city near Hiroshima. (The trip from Narita to Iwakuni is about 900 km and would require at least 12-hours driving on the toll highways.)

The teachers would arrive in Iwakuni, and receive direction to enter their lodging facility and quarantine for 14-days.

The American couple were escorted to their rental automobile and departed with instructions from the Japanese authorities to only stop for gas and not to enter any public facility. (Perhaps this was lost in translation.)

The couple changed their mind on the route and drove to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, where they purchased a domestic flight to Iwakuni. The ticket purchase alerted Japanese authorities who notified the couple’s new employers.

They were refused access to the government facilities and found themselves terminated before even a first-day orientation in the new country.

This case study brings up several questions.

Wouldn’t you research through the internet, communicate with your employer, and the airline before departing during this current state of disruption?

Is it outside common sense to expect a severe response to anything but adherence to COVID-19 safe practices?

When does it ever pay off to lie - to anyone and especially yourself?

Shouldn’t we be especially careful when entering a foreign country as a guest?

My preference is not to fly at all, but not everyone has this option.

Following are links to English language sites with data on protocol at Japanese airports:

Please stay healthy and safe.

Travel Ban

Narita Airport


US Embassy

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