According to Article 5 paragraph 1 item 14 of the Japanese Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, foreign nationals are generally refused entry to Japan in case they fall under a reason designated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as risk for the interests or public safety of Japan.
Based on this provision, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MoJ has published a list of countries, which includes all EU member states, from which the entry to Japan is principally prohibited. The list of countries has been last updated on 27 May: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001318288.pdf.
- General Rule: Refusal of Entry
Foreigners who have stayed in any of the countries stated in the list in the last 14 days prior to their intended visit to Japan are denied entry unless particular exceptional circumstances do apply. In addition to the special visa categories mentioned below, particular exceptional circumstances are only granted for foreigners desiring re-entry to Japan based on a valid re- entry permit, i.e. for persons with a middle-or long-term visa who have left Japan temporarily and wish to re-enter. Foreigners who are first time visitors or who had visited Japan with a short-term visa issued at the airport (tourist visa, business-trip visa etc.) in the past and who have since left Japan are not able to re-enter Japan, because these visa types lose their effect upon departure. For re-entry visa holders, in an announcement of 12 June 2020, the MoJ has listed the following concrete examples for particular exceptional circumstances allowing an exemption from the entry restriction http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001321982.pdf.
- Exception 1: Special Visa Categories
Foreigners with special visa types, such as (i) permanent residence, (ii) spouse etc. of a Japanese citizen, (iii) spouse of a permanent resident, or (iv) long-term resident* are considered as having particular exceptional circumstances, and therefore re-entry to Japan is principally permitted, provided however they left Japan with a re-entry permit** on or prior to 2 April 2020. For the time period between 3 April and 26 May 2020 it is principally decisive whether the country the foreigner has visited was already on the list at the time of the departure from Japan (in this case a re-entry is principally denied) or was included in the list only after the departure (re-entry principally admitted). For departures on or after 27 May 2020, particular exceptional circumstances are generally not admitted.
*Long-term resident is a special visa category for foreigners with Japanese ancestors, former refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.
**Re-entry permit is a permit to re-enter Japan, which can be obtained at the immigration office; for foreigners with a middle-or long-term visa from European and many other countries, a so-called “special re-entry permit” can be obtained directly at the airport by filling out a form, checking the box indicating that a return to Japan is intended, and by handing this form over to the immigration officer upon departure from Japan.
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