The U.S. did not make the list.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
September 30, 2020
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Japan plans to lift a travel ban on 12 countries starting next month, according to the Yomiuri newspaper, the Associated Press reports. The list includes China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia. The U.S. did not make the cut.

In Sept., Nikkei reported that Japan hoped to lift its pandemic-related international travel restrictions on Oct. 1 by welcoming foreigners with approved long-stay visas. Nikkei said the government would prioritize entrance for people traveling from countries where the spread of COVID-19 had been limited — a list that included Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam.

Japan has reported 87,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,614 deaths, a small fraction of the more than 33 million coronavirus cases and more than one million deaths reported worldwide. Japan declared a national state of emergency in early April in an effort to curb transmission of COVID-19 but stopped short of instituting a full lockdown.

PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Japan has said it would reopen its borders in three phases: the first accommodating essential and business travelers, the second for students and educators, and the third for tourists. Japan is requiring everyone entering the country to test negative for COVID-19 and likely will require self-isolation — including avoiding the country’s notoriously packed public transit systems — for 14 days after arrival. The government is also considering limiting entry to a maximum of 1,000 travelers per day, Kyodo News reported.

Japan began lifting coronavirus restrictions on domestic travel in May and has looked inward to spur tourism in recent months. Japanese luxury rail operators have restarted services, and national parks have added Wi-Fi and workstations to encourage remote workers to office at the country’s most stunning national parks. Japan also has launched a domestic travel subsidy program that provides deep discounts on domestic travel, Kyodo News reported.

Japan hopes its gradual reopening will make it easier for Japanese travelers to get abroad as well. More than 100 countries have implemented restrictions on Japanese travelers. Some of those policies were responses to Japan’s own travel restrictions.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.