Coronavirus Update – 1 April 2020

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New information about coronavirus-related travel restrictions has been posted since this was written. Please reload the home page of the blog for the latest update.

Japan has enacted additional border-strengthening measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As this is a major development, I will summarize it in a new post as best as I can.

Going forward, I will be flagging any old posts related to coronavirus-related travel updates in an effort to avoid any confusion.

All of the latest updates can be found on the website of the Japan National Tourism Organization. They have a dedicated web page with regard to the travel restrictions.

The new measures go into effect as of midnight Japan time on Friday, April 3, 2020.

  1. Foreign nationals who have been in one of over 70 countries or regions in the last 14 days will be denied entry into Japan, except in extraordinary circumstances. Some of the affected locations include Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States and most of Europe. The JNTO link has the complete list.
  2. Visa arrangements from certain countries and regions (including visa exemptions, i.e. for tourism) will be suspended. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States are some of the affected countries that will be subject to the visa cancellation. The JNTO link has the complete list.
  3. All arrivals from locations included in the entry ban, including Japanese nationals and foreigners allowed to enter Japan because of extraordinary circumstances, are subject to on-the-spot coronavirus testing and will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
  4. All arrivals from locations not included in the entry ban will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.

Essentially, everyone that is not banned from entering Japan will be asked to quarantine. Those requested to quarantine will also be asked to refrain from using public transportation during the quarantine period.

Today is my birthday… yes, I’m an April Fools baby. But, the current crisis in our world is no joke. Let’s all do our best to stay safe, and let’s give thanks to all of the first responders and essential members of the workforce that are putting everything on the line during these difficult times.

My advice: Do not travel to Japan unless you have an essential reason to do so. Japan will still be around for you to discover and enjoy once the worst of this pandemic has passed.

The coronavirus illustration is public domain pursuant to Title 17, Section 105 of the United States Code.

Japanese 7-Eleven Stores block ATM withdrawals by Mastercard

Travelers to Japan should be aware that for the second time – to my knowledge – 7-Eleven stores in Japan are not allowing Mastercard cards, including Maestro and Cirrus cards, to be used at their ATM machines.

Seven Bank, operated by 7-Eleven, is among the more popular ways of obtaining cash in Japan. Over 12,000 7-Eleven stores have an ATM within, permitting cash withdrawals.

Unfortunately, due to a dispute between Seven Bank and Mastercard, Seven Bank has again blocked the usage of Mastercard, Maestro and Cirrus at their ATMs. The first suspension of service lasted nine months, from December 2009 to August 2010. In both instances, Seven Bank claims in their own words that the action is “in response to a revision in conditions by MasterCard that will impede the Company’s provision of ATM services.”

You can still withdraw cash using Visa cards (including those with the Plus logo), American Express, JCB, Union Pay, Discover Card and Diner’s Club.

If you have a Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus card on the other hand … like me … you’ll want to turn to Japan Post, the postal provider of Japan that pretty much has an ATM located in every one of their branches across the country.  Note however that not all ATMs are available 24 hours a day… only central post office locations in the major cities offer 24 hour ATM service. Most others are available only during the post office’s business hours: those in major cities will have longer business hours, while those in more rural locations will have shorter hours and may be closed on weekends and holidays.

Citibank is another alternative, as they have bank locations in the major cities and at the main international airports.

One thing to note is that you can do an online search for Seven Bank ATMs in English through their website, while for Japan Post the search is only available in Japanese.

Here are some links:

Seven Bank
Japan Post
Japan Post ATM Search (Japanese Only!)
Citibank list of ATM locations (PDF File)