Health, Insurance and Safety Advice for Visitors to Japan
One of the most amazing and beautiful countries in the world, Japan is an exciting and far-flung destination for most global travelers. From the stunning Mount Fuji to the bustling city of Tokyo or the Zen-like feel in Kyoto, Japan is high-tech and modern, with respect and honor for its past.
When you travel to Japan, expect to experience fantastic food, see stunning temples and shrines and enjoy a culture steeped in a long, rich history. Though an expensive country to visit, a trip to Japan can be a trip of a lifetime.
Japan is a very stable country. It is a successful democracy and has a large economy. Throughout the country, tourist facilities are widely available, except in some coastal areas of the Northeast.
Health Care System in Japan
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranking of healthcare systems, Japan ranked 10 out of 190 countries (by comparison, the US ranked 31). While medical care is good in Japan, it may be challenging to access international doctors while abroad. Additionally, medical facilities that cater to US-style expectations are costly, and there are not many.
Many prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so it is important to bring an adequate supply of prescription medication with you. Additionally, certain medications such as those commonly prescribed in the US to treat depression or Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are not widely available.
Vaccines and Staying Healthy when Visiting Japan
It is important for all travelers to keep up to date on routine vaccinations. This includes the vaccines for polio, chickenpox, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis. Be sure to have your annual flu shot too.
Some travelers may need to consider additional vaccinations depending on the length of your trip, your specific destinations and the activities you will be doing.
Consult with your doctor to see if any of these vaccinations are required for your trip:
Hepatitis A – outbreaks can occur, even in countries with a low risk for hepatitis A., You can get hepatitis A through contaminates food or water.
Hepatitis B – this is transmitted through sexual contact, blood products, and contaminated needles. If you plan on a tattoo or piercing, a medical procedure or having sex with a new partner, the CDC recommends this vaccine.
Japanese encephalitis – your travel plans will determine if you need this vaccine. This vaccine is primarily required for those who have trips planned that are longer than a month, are planning on visiting a rural area in Japan or spending a lot of time outdoors. Together with your doctor, determine if this vaccine is the right choice for you.
Rabies – while rabies is present in bats in Japan, it is not a risk to most travelers. This vaccine is recommended only for those who plan to engage in activities that put them at risk for bat bites like caving and adventure travel.
Japanese Emergency Health and Safety Services
In the event you need to access emergency services in Japan, call the following:
- 110 for police
- 119 for fire and ambulance
Be aware that there may not be any that English-speaking dispatchers available.
Source: Japan Tourism
Passports and Visa Requirements for Travel to Japan
To travel to Japan, a valid passport and a return ticket are required for “visa-free” tourist stays of up to 90 days. All foreign nationals entering Japan are required to be photographed at the port of entry and to provide fingerprint scans. This is in addition to any other visa or passport requirements.
All US citizens entering Japan need to ensure that their passports and visas are valid and up to date before departure. Many Asian countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after you enter the country. Airlines in Japan will deny your boarding if you lack sufficient travel documents or your passport is not valid for six months.
Do US Citizens Need a Visa to Visit Japan
The short answer is no. Japan visa requirements for us citizens are very relaxed due to the nature of US-Japan relations. For travel up to 90 days, visitors from the following countries are not required to have a visa:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay
More Information: Japan Visitor and Visa Information
International Medical Insurance for Visitors to and Expats in Japan
As you plan your trip, take advantage of the opportunity to purchase both travel and medical insurance so that you can be prepared for any unforeseen and unwanted events.
Expatriate Health Insurance in Japan
Private expatriate insurance plans are available that will reimburse the portion of fees not covered by public insurance. If you do not have Japanese Health Insurance or the facility does not accept it, your medical expenses must be paid in full on completion of treatment. Japanese Insurance is often not accepted by clinics specifically serving foreign residents. Foreign and International insurance schemes may allow you to receive reimbursement for medical expenses incurred in Japan. You should check with your provider to see which services are covered. The medical facility will be able to provide you with the necessary forms needed to claim expenses from your insurance company.
Cigna Global Medical Insurance Plan
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
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Japanese Travel Medical Insurance
Typically, travel medical insurance provides temporary health coverage for those in your traveling party. These plans provide coverage for accidents or illness, saving you from large medical bills if you require a visit to the doctor or hospital. In Japan, medical caregivers will require payment in full at the time of treatment. Remember to keep detailed documentation for your insurance claim.
Purchase of comprehensive travel medical insurance, including air evacuation, is strongly recommended. Medical costs paid out of pocket can be high. For example, medical evacuation can cost upwards of $50,000.
Atlas Travel Medical
- You choose between the basic essentials and more extensive coverage.
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements.
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance.
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Is It Safe to Travel to Japan
People often ask: Is it safe to travel to Japan? Overall, the crime rate in Japan is below that of the national average in the US and other developed countries, and violent crime is rare. Crimes reported by travelers typically involve personal dispute, theft or vandalism.
Staying safe while traveling in Japan includes consistently practicing good personal security and using common sense. That includes being respectful of local customs and etiquette and being aware of your surroundings.
Tips to stay safe include:
- Be aware of potential pickpockets in crowded areas such as on trains, at airports or shopping. Never keep your passport in your pocket.
- Stay away from counterfeit or pirated goods, no matter how accessible they are. They are illegal in the US and purchase of them may also be breaking local laws.
- High-risk crime areas include some of the entertainment and nightlife districts in Tokyo such as Roppongi, Kabuki-Cho, Shibuya and Ikebukuro. Exercise caution in these areas.
Other Advice for Visiting Japan
While the cost of living in Japan is one of the highest in the world, the use of credit and debit cards are not as popular, especially outside of major cities.
ATMs are not typically open 24 hours, and few accept US-issued cards. Location most likely to have ATMs you could access include major airports, post offices, foreign bank branches and 7-11 stores.
Also, 7-11 stores and other Japanese convenience stores can be a haven as they typically carry a full range of items you might need, selling everything from underwear to concert tickets. They are also a good place to purchase hot food items.
Undoubtedly, a trip to Japan can be exciting! As you plan, remember to purchase the travel and medical insurance that will give you the peace of mind you need to truly enjoy all of the activities and adventures you have planned while abroad.