When Will Travel Resume to Japan? | Covid 19 Vaccine Timeline & Updates

When Will Travel Resume to Japan?

CURRENT PROJECTION – At Earliest End of November 2021, More Likely End of December 2021 or early 2022.

See timeline below for details on this projection.

Last Updated October 6, 2021 – Japan has given over 170 million doses of Covid vaccines as of October 6, 2021. The rate of vaccination has increased substantially over the past month. [see chart below, reported data is 2 days in delay]

Japan anticipates all residents eligible to have had a shot by the end of October. This would mean a vaccination rate greater than 80% by the end of November.

Key Data Points

  • Over 75% of all residents in Japan have received at least one shot. Over 65% have received both shots. [source]
  • More than 89% of all residents age 65+ have received both shots. This is likely to settle around 90-93%. [source]
  • Many prefectures in Japan have already hit over 80% of residents that have received one shot, such as Gunma, Yamagata, Wakayama, Yamaguchi, Kochi, Shiga, Kumamoto. This should become all prefectures within the next week or two. [source]
  • Cases and hospitalizations are now decreasing across Japan through early September. That said, these numbers are not a true count of total cases, but instead a better count of the total “severe cases”. Japan does not typically test mild symptoms or admit to hospitals anything less than severe symptoms. [source]
    • More than 95.6% of all deaths in Japan (and most other countries) due to Covid-19 are in the age cohort 60+ as of June 2021 [source]. This cohort is now largely vaccinated in Japan.
    • It is not unreasonable to expect a similar situation to other countries with high vaccination rates of their elder population in the world, where case loads increase in younger populations due to relaxing of pandemic protocols, but death rates and hospitalizations per positive test drop significantly. [see current US data in states with high vaccination rates such as Vermont]
  • Japan is averaging around 1-1.5 million doses administered per day. At roughly 136 million doses so far of an expected 220 million needed to vaccinate all 12+ residents in Japan, this means it will take roughly 50-80 days to finish vaccinating the 12+ population of Japan fully.

The Japanese Government has been issuing vaccine passports to residents for international travel purposes since July 2021. This is a key step in creating a system to resume inbound travel to Japan for visitors. [see June 17 below]

The Japanese Government announced they plan to vaccinate the whole population of Japan by October or November 2021 [see June 9 & 10 below] They are currently on track to accomplish this (as of Aug 4) assuming the rate of vaccination remains steady.

The Current Vaccination Rate in Japan as of Oct 6, 2021.
The Current Vaccination Rate in Japan as of Oct 6, 2021.

The government has approved the Pfizer Vaccine for anyone 12 years or older [see May 31 below]

Currently there are an estimated minimum of 16 million doses in Japan unused. This number is likely much higher, but there are no new data points as of the end of May. [see May 7 below]

Current Status: No travel possible for tourists to Japan.

This is expected to change for vaccinated travelers first, beginning late 2021.

Japan stopped allowing travel for tourists back in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Since then it has not been possible for tourists to enter Japan.

Japan is considering a “Vaccine Passport” aka “Green Pass” to allow vaccinated travelers back into Japan. This system will likely be a copy of the current system being implemented in the EU. [see Apr 29 below]

Projected Timeline to Resumed Travel to Japan

By end of September the government expects to have secured and vaccinated the adult population of Japan. They expect over 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated by October/Novemeber 2021.

See the full details in the timeline below.

Which Vaccines are Available in Japan?

As of April 2, 2021 just the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is approved (120 million doses were initially promised).

The Japanese Government updated its agreement with Pfizer to now 200 million doses. These are expected to be in Japan no later than the end of September 2021 [see April 21 below]

Moderna vaccine (50 million doses by the end of September) & AstraZeneca vaccine (120 million doses unknown date) [see May 21 below]

Upcoming Approvals

  • Late 2021 – Novavax vaccine (250 million doses by unknown date)

Current Vaccine Rollout Timeline in Japan

Winter 2021

  • January 2021 – Japan has secured over 564 million doses of vaccines for its population of 126 million. [source]
  • February 2021 – Japan approves Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for domestic use (contracted 144 million doses) [source]
  • February 2021 – AstraZeneca applies for approval (typically 3 month process). [source]
  • February 2021 – Japan begins vaccination of its roughly 4 million healthcare workers mid February. [source]
  • End of Feb 2021 – Novavax vaccine enters clinical trials and begins production of 250 million doses domestically.

Spring 2021

  • March 2021 – EU export ban on vaccines pushes back all dates roughly 2 weeks. [source]
  • April 2, 2021 – Japan has vaccinated just under 1 million people with their first shot. [source]
  • April 5, 2021 – NHK Announces vaccine distribution numbers for the remainder of April. The table below shows the distribution to each of the 43 prefectures. This table is a bit confusing, but after some quick math you can paint the national picture.

    Tokyo + Kanagawa + Osaka = 3 prefectures, so 43 minus those three leaves 40 in the Other Prefectures category. According to Wikipedia, there are 1,719 municipalities in Japan.

    This means each week has the following number of vaccines distributed nation wide in Japan.
    Week of April 5th | 89,700 doses nation wide = (3,900*3) + (1,950*40)
    Week of April 12th | 448,500 doses nation wide = (19,500*3) + (9,750*40)
    Week of April 19th | 448,500 doses nation wide = (19,500*3) + (9,750*40)
    Week of April 26th | 1,676,025 doses nation wide = 975*1,719
NHK Covid 19 Vaccine Timeline in Japan April 2021.
NHK Covid 19 Vaccine Timeline in Japan April 2021. [source]
  • April 9, 2021 – Japan changes rule to accept foreign vaccine study data removing need for domestic data before approval. With Moderna, Astrazenica, and NovaVax all in the pipeline to be approved this year, this could add other vaccines to the list for approval soon. [source]
  • April 19, 2021 – Prime Minister Suga makes announcement that Japan is likely to receive enough Pfizer doses for all eligible residents by September. [source]
  • April 21, 2021 – Suga confirms an additional 50 million doses of Pfizer vaccine by end of September 2021. Bringing the total to approx. 200 million doses. [source]
  • April 29, 2021 – Japan is considering a “Vaccine Passport” to allow vaccinated travelers back into Japan. This system will likely be a copy of the current system being implemented in the EU. [source]
  • May 7, 2021 – Japan has confirmed it has received at least 28 million doses of vaccine, of which 24 million have yet to be used. [source]
  • May 8, 2021 – Japan announces plan to vaccinate 1 million people per day in the coming weeks. [source]
  • May 10, 2021 – Japan plans to begin a two week long campaign to vaccinate all 36 million elderly citizens (age 65+) [source]
  • 30 Municipalities agree to setup mass vaccination centers including Gunma, Aichi, and Tottori Prefectures. Like the centers in Tokyo & Osaka, they plan to use the Moderna Vaccine. [source]
  • May 21, 2021 – Astrazeneca and Moderna vaccines are approved in Japan. [source]
  • May 23, 2021 – Gunma, Aichi, and Miyagi Prefectures begin mass vaccination sites. [source]
  • May 31, 2021 – Japan begins to allow municipalities to vaccinate younger than 65+ residents in certain areas. [source]
  • June 1, 2021 – The government announces plans to allow workplaces to being administering vaccinations starting June 21st. This date might be brought forward if municipalities can agree to still meet the requirement of all 65+ being vaccinated by July 31st. [source]
  • June 2, 2021 – Japan has been receiving increased vaccine shipments since May. It is set to receive 100 million doses from Pfizer by the end of June and another 40 million doses from Moderna. This is enough to vaccinate at least 70 million people fully, just under 50% of the population of Japan. [source]
  • June 9, 2021 – Japan plans to rollout it’s vaccine passports this summer to help resume international travel. [source]
  • June 10, 2021 – The Japanese Government announced it’s plan to fully vaccinate the total population of Japan by November or October of 2021. [source]
  • June 17, 2021 – The Government announced plans to distribute vaccine “passport” documents to residents who are fully vaccinated by the end of July. This is a crucial step to resuming international travel. [source]
  • August 6, 2021 – Japan reached 45% first shot as of two days ago and is expected to surpass 50% by next week. Fully vaccinated is currently at 32% and should be over 40% by the end of the month. [source]
  • August 19, 2021 – Japan has surpassed 50% first shot and 40% second shot of all residents. The rate of 12+ residents is higher at over 57% first shot and 45% second shot. [source]
  • Septebmer 5, 2021 – Japan will issue digital vaccine passports in December. [source]
  • Septebmer 8, 2021 – The Japanese government announces at least 60% of all Japanese residents have received one shot, just under 50% have received both. [source]

Japan Covid Vaccine Schedule Information

  • June 2021 – Japan’s contract with Pfizer BioNTech is to have received 100 million doses by the end of June. [source]
  • July 2021 – Japan plans to begin vaccination of all adults age 16+. [not confirmed]
  • End of July 2021 – Japan plans to complete vaccination of all adults 65+. [source]
  • End of August/September 2021 – With three vaccines approved and over 200 million doses received vaccinations should be complete for all adults age 16+. [not confirmed]
  • End of September 2021 – Japan plans to receive 50 million doses of Moderna Vaccine by the end of September. [source]
  • Late 2021 – Novavax vaccine approval is expected and an additional 250 million doses will become available
  • Early 2022 – Japan has already ordered a third round of “booster shots” from both Pfizer (120 million) and Moderna (50 million). They are considering beginning administering these as early as late 2021 to immunocompromised, 65+ residents, and medical workers.

Based on this timeline and current information, it is reasonable to expect a 80% vaccination rate for Covid-19 in Japan by the end of October/November.

We will keep updating this page as new information is available. Please understand that all information on future events are simply predictions and are subject to change.

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