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COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Japan - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Japan due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Japan – Public Health Agency of Canada
Fukushima nuclear power plant and surrounding area - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the districts and towns designated by the Japanese government as Areas under Evacuation Orders.
Travel Health Notice – Rubella in Japan
Japan is experiencing an outbreak of rubella. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women who are not protected against rubella either through vaccination or previous rubella infection avoid travelling to Japan. This is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Safety and security
Fukushima nuclear power plant and surrounding area
Following the 2011 incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities have placed restrictions, including travel and overnight stay bans, on the plant’s surrounding area due to the risk of exposure to radiation. Always follow the instructions of local authorities.
Map of the areas under evacuation orders
Tensions on Korean Peninsula
Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the regional security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, or as the result of that country’s military exercises and activities.
Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities, including the Cabinet Secretariat’s guidance on civil protection.
Cabinet Secretariat Civil Protection Portal
Crime against foreigners is generally low. Be particularly cautious in entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan, including these four in Tokyo: Kabukicho, Roppongi, Shibuya and Ikebukuro.
If you are victim of a crime, file a police report at the station closest to where the crime occurred. Occasionally, local police may be hesitant to prepare a report for foreigners. If this happens, contact the Embassy of Canada to Japan for assistance.
An increasing number of travellers report having been used as unwitting drug couriers. Penalties for drug-related criminal activities are severe. Even unsuspecting individuals transporting packages containing narcotics can be criminally charged and face long jail sentences. Be wary of individuals, even those you know, who ask you to carry a package to Japan on their behalf.
More about International Drug Smuggling Scams
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. Drugs and copious amounts of alcohol have been mixed into drinks of unsuspecting patrons by staff or other customers at bars and nightclubs, particularly in the Tokyo districts of Kabukicho and Roppongi. These incidents are usually intended to defraud, overcharge, rob or assault primarily male victims.
There have been incidents of overcharging at bars and clubs. Disputes over overcharging have led to violence.
There have also been reports of foreigners being threatened to withdraw money from ATMs.
Learn more about overseas fraud.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment. Inappropriate physical contact (chikan) may occur on busy subways and trains during the morning and evening commutes. There are women-only train cars during rush hour on some subway lines.
Safe-travel guide for women
Travel by road is generally safe, but roads may be narrow and are occasionally shared by cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
If you travel by taxi, have your destination written in Japanese as drivers may not understand English.
Travel by subway and train is quick and convenient. Signs are usually in Japanese but signage in English is becoming more common, especially in larger cities and at tourist destinations.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
General safety information
Emergency information and advice for tourists is available from the Japan National Tourism Organization.
In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any specific restrictions related to this situation. Consider even your transit points.
Restrictions imposed could include:
- Entry bans, particularly for non-residents
- Exit bans
- Quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, regardless of where you are arriving from
- Health screenings
- Border closures
- Airport closures
- Flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
- Suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
- Monitor the media for the latest information
- Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
Foreign diplomatic offices in Canada – Global Affairs Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Japanese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Japan. If you plan to travel to other countries in the region, check passport validity requirements for the countries you plan to visit.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to a maximum of 90 days
Business visa: Required
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You can’t apply for a business, work or student visa if you have already entered Japan as a tourist.
Business travellers need a visa if they are to receive compensation in addition to their regular salary for work carried out while in Japan.
Overstaying the 90-day, tourist visa-free limit or any other visa time limit is a criminal offence. If you overstay, you may be subject to fines and deportation, and you may be barred from re-entry to Japan.
Learn about laws that apply to work in Japan.
Other entry requirements
Along with your passport and any required visas to visit Japan, you must have:
- an onward or return ticket
- confirmed accommodation arrangements
- proof of sufficient funds for your stay in the country
Japanese officials will photograph and fingerprint all visitors upon arrival. Some exceptions may apply, including for children under the age of 16, individuals with special permanent residency and diplomats on assignment to Japan (and holding a Japanese diplomatic visa). For more information, consult the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
Japanese regulations require that visiting foreigners give detailed information when checking in at hotels or other lodging facilities. Foreigners must also allow their passports to be photocopied.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - March 31, 2020
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
- Rubella in Japan - May 10, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Eastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, malaria, and tick-borne encephalitis.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever may occur sporadically. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Eastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is very good. Service is available throughout the country.
The cost of health-care services is similar to Canada. Foreign patients are often required to pay in advance or produce documentation to prove that the bill will be paid prior to discharge.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Canadians working in Japan who are not covered for medical and health services by their Japanese employer must carry full medical coverage for their stay by subscribing to the national health insurance plan.
If you need to consult medical professionals, the following organizations can refer you to medical facilities with English and other foreign language-speaking staff:
- Japan National Tourism Organization
- Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Centre
- AMDA International Medical Information Center
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
In many cases, arrested or detained suspects are denied oral or written communication with anyone other than their lawyer or a Canadian consular representative for an extended period. If you are detained, even for a minor offence, you may be held without charge for up to 23 days. Police officers may begin their initial questioning before you see a lawyer. You could also be in detention for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.
You must carry your passport or residence card (zairyu) at all times. A photocopy will not satisfy authorities. Police officers in Japan have the authority to ask for your identification documents at any time. Failure to comply could lead to detention or arrest.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
Certain medications are banned in Japan, including:
You may bring a one-month supply of prescription medication or a two-month supply of non-prescription medication into Japan, providing the medication does not contain narcotics (including codeine).
Prescribed medication must be accompanied by a doctor’s prescription that states the patient’s full name, address, reason for use and dosage. The bearer of the medication may be requested to present a detailed listing of the contents of the medication. If you wish to bring in larger supplies of medication or bring in prescription medication that contains narcotics, you must apply in advance for import certification. Application should be made several months prior to arrival.
Consult Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for more information.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Japan.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Japan, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
A person who acquires two or more citizenships at birth can keep all citizenships (including Japanese citizenship) until the age of 20. At that age, a person has 2 years to decide to renounce all other citizenships or renounce Japanese citizenship.
Traffic drives on the left.
You must carry an international driving permit along with your Canadian licence, or a Japanese driver’s licence.
More about the International Driving Permit
You must also obtain Japanese insurance. There are two types of driving insurance available:
- compulsory insurance (jibaisekihoken)
- voluntary insurance (nin’i no jidoshahoken)
Should you have an accident, compulsory insurance may be insufficient on its own.
There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties are strict and can include lengthy jail sentences. Local laws extend to both the driver and any passenger (for allowing someone to drive while under the influence of alcohol); both are subject to prosecution.
Working in Japan
Working without an appropriate visa is illegal. Offenders may be subject to imprisonment, a fine and deportation. If you are considering employment offers in Japan, contact the Japanese embassy or consulate nearest you before coming to Japan.
Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
You should carefully review a contract to teach English before you sign. Ensure that all terms and conditions of employment are clearly stated in the contract and that you meet all requirements before accepting an offer. There have been incidents of employers not adhering to their contractual obligations. Consult our Teaching English in Japan publication for more information.
You may be denied entry to public establishments such as swimming pools, hot springs, beaches and some gyms if you have a tattoo. Some establishments may ask that you cover your tattoo.
The currency of Japan is the yen (JPY).
Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at major banks and some hotels. Credit cards are accepted in most major hotels and restaurants, but Japan is a predominantly cash-based society. ATMs are widely available, but many don’t accept foreign debit cards. Some ATMs may not be available 24 hours a day or on weekends and holidays.
Natural disasters and climate
Typhoons usually occur between June and October. Southern areas, including Okinawa and surrounding islands, are more vulnerable. These storms can result in flooding and landslides, which can hamper overland travel, reduce the provision of essential services and in some instances result in significant loss of life. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Japan is in an active seismic zone and is prone to strong earthquakes, as well as tsunamis.
- Earthquakes - Government of Canada
There are a number of active volcanoes. The Japan Meteorological Agency lists active volcanoes and associated warnings. If you are travelling near a volcano, check for the latest activity and warnings and always follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
- Volcanic alert levels and warnings - Japan Meteorological Agency
Snowstorms occur in western Honshu and Hokkaido from December to March. Avalanches can occur in mountainous areas, including at ski resorts. These can cause power disruptions, make roads impassable and limit the ability of responders to reach these areas in case of emergency.
- Japan Meteorological Agency
- Information in case of natural disasters - Japan National Tourism Organization
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 119
- firefighters: 119
Tokyo - Embassy of Canada
Fukuoka - Consulate of Canada
Hiroshima - Consulate of Canada
Nagoya - Consulate of Canada
Osaka - Consulate of Canada
Sapporo - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Japan, in Tokyo, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
When calling from within Japan, the area code is preceded by a 0. There is no 0 when calling from outside Japan. If placing a call to a cellular phone number, you do not need to enter the code.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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