The government of Japan fully lifted the state of emergency that had been in place since April for the last remaining five prefectures (Japan has 47 prefectures): Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, and Hokkaido on 25 May. However, sustained border controls and travel restrictions will continue to affect multinational employers and their globally-mobile employees doing business in Japan.
The government of Japan fully lifted the state of emergency that had been in place since April for the last remaining five prefectures (Japan has 47 prefectures): Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, and Hokkaido on 25 May.1 (For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2020-145, 3 April 2020.) It was lifted one week earlier than originally scheduled due to the government having assessed a low rate of infections and death toll. It should be noted that the Japanese-style state of emergency is not a lockdown as seen in other countries. It was based on “self-restraint” – a strategy that largely relies on social pressure brought to bear on individuals and businesses to heed public health advice.
The government however is warning people to still remain cautious so as to prevent a second wave and keep avoiding “Three C’s”: Confined and Crowed places, and Close human contact.2 With that said, Japan will continue to keep the controls on its borders and travel restrictions in place until end June (which can be extended if the government so determines).
The lifting of the state of emergency will bring some much welcome “breathing room” for Japan’s population, as well as those foreign nationals who got stuck in Japan during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the sustained border controls and travel restrictions will continue to affect multinational employers and their globally-mobile employees doing business in Japan.
Assignments to Japan and hiring new personnel from abroad will be delayed due to ongoing travel restrictions, border controls, and quarantine, as well as the limited access to immigration services due to suspensions of appointments.
Awareness of developments, which are evolving, is vital to help minimise disruptions to operations and to manage associated risks and costs.
Until the government decides it is safe to rescind or more significantly roll-back current restrictions, extensive remote working is a “best practice” for globally-mobile employees, to the extent possible, and is a way for employers to foster the safety of their employees and help ensure business continuity.
Effective from 27 May at 0:00 (JST), foreign nationals who have been physically present within the countries or regions listed in the table below in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Japan are not permitted to land in Japan. Japanese nationals do not fall in the scope of this entry-ban, but they are required, if they return from overseas, to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Note that the foreign nationals who arrive in Japan on a flight via any of those 111 listed counties below – even for a purpose of refueling or transit – will be denied entering Japan in principle.
Japan has added 11 “new” countries to the “denied-entry” country list on 25 May.3
2. All entrants (including Japanese nationals, regardless of the purpose of visit) arriving from the countries NOT listed above, even those with no particular symptoms of COVID-19, are subject to7:
For all travelers, including Japanese nationals, please confirm the below BEFORE your arrival:
The immigration authorities currently do not accept the new CoE (Certificate of Eligibility) and visa applications for the 111 listed countries until at least the end of June.
The Immigration Services Agency of Japan also sets the limit on the number of applications per day to help minimise any congestion at the authority which can directly affect applications for the extension of Residence Cards for those foreign nationals remaining in Japan.
The government issued the guideline on 25 May for how to adopt a “new-lifestyle” for the long-term fight against COVID-19. 8 Japan will follow the multi-stage plan to boost social economic recovery; the individual must follow the “roadmap” introduced by the local government. The Tokyo metropolitan area, which has been hit hardest by the coronavirus in Japan, has introduced three phases to gradually restart socio-economic activities. Phase 1 started from 26 May. The local government will conduct a status assessment every two weeks to decide whether the city can enter the next phase of the roadmap.9
1 For additional information, in Japanese, see the website of the prime minister’s office at: https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/98_abe/actions/202005/25corona.html .
See S. Denyer, “Tokyo Lifts State of Emergency, Braces for ‘New Lifestyle’ with the Virus,” in The Washington Post (online) (May 25, 2020) at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/tokyo-lifts-state-of-emergency-braces-for-new-lifestyle-with-the-virus/2020/05/25/7a0e5836-9b75-11ea-ad79-eef7cd734641_story.html . (Note that this is a 3rd party (non-governmental, non-KPMG) website. Providing this link does not represent an endorsement of this website by KPMG.)
2 See the website of the prime minister’s office at https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/content/000061868.pdf (PDF 1.21 MB) .
3 See the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (in Japanese) at: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/0000164708_00001.html#kokumin .
4 See the Immigration Service Agency of Japan (in Japanese): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001315947.pdf .
5 See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese) at: https://www.anzen.mofa.go.jp/covid19/info0522.html .
6 See the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (in Japanese) at: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/0000121431_00098.html .
See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese) at: https://www.anzen.mofa.go.jp/info/pcwideareaspecificinfo_2020C052.html .
8 See the announcement from 36th Meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters at: https://corona.go.jp/expert-meeting/pdf/sidai_r020525.pdf .
* Please note the KPMG International member firm in the United States does not provide immigration or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Japan.
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