Don’t go to Japan, and if you’re already traveling there, come home ASAP, says State Department.

On Monday, the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) updated its guidelines for Americans considering travel to Japan, prompting the U.S. State Department to do the same. Both organizations now list Japan as a Level-4 risk country, the highest possible rank, with the CDC saying “travelers should avoid all travel to Japan” and the State Department being even more forceful with the imperative “Do not travel to Japan.”

The revisions were made in following a new CDC evaluation of the coronavirus situation in Japan. While specifics were not mentioned in the notices, Japan’s low vaccination rate, compared to the U.S., is likely a major issue. Japan is still vaccinating its senior citizens, with vaccinations for the general public not expected to start until sometime in July at the earliest.

Another possible contributing factor is suspicion that Japan’s comparatively low reported infection numbers, for a country of its size, may be a result of what some critics claim are abnormally low testing rates. While such criticisms aren’t new, insufficient testing could also lead to inaccurately low reported numbers for mutant variants of the virus that existing vaccines may or may not be wholly effective against. “Travelers who have completed vaccination (of the new Corona) may also be at risk of infection and spread of the mutant strain and should avoid all trips to Japan,” cautions the CDC in its statement.

The State Department is also additionally recommending that American citizens currently in Japan on non-resident status “leave as soon as it is safe to do so.”

With Japan still prohibiting inbound tourism to the country, the State Department’s new warning is primarily for those considering travel to Japan for business, familial, or other exemption-eligible reasons. It’s also worth noting that the “do-not-travel” notices are recommendations, not enforceable bans. However, with the U.S. government itself telling citizens to stay out of Japan, regardless of their reasons for wanting to travel to the country, it’s looking increasingly doubtful that the U.S. Olympic team will be making the trip to Tokyo for the delayed Summer Olympics, which are still scheduled to start on July 23.

Source: Kyodo via Hachima Kiko, U.S. Department of State (1, 2, 3), CDC, U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan
Top image: Pakutaso
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