Mandatory TB Testing Required for Visitors from 6 Nations to Help Japan Maintain Low Incidence of Disease

Japan to require tuberculosis tests for foreigners from specific Asian countries from 2024

In an effort to prevent the spread of tuberculosis into Japan, the government has announced plans to implement new measures for foreigners from six Asian countries wishing to stay in Japan for medium- to long-term periods.

The requirement was initially set to come into effect in July 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of fiscal 2024, travelers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, China, and Myanmar will be required to undergo tuberculosis tests before entering Japan.

Those unable to provide documentation proving they are not infected with the disease will be denied entry, with the intention of safeguarding Japan from potential tuberculosis cases originating from overseas.

According to reports, the six aforementioned countries represent about 80% of all foreign tuberculosis patients diagnosed in Japan, sparking the need for these preventative measures.

For individuals planning to stay in Japan for over three months, the government will mandate chest X-rays and other tests at designated medical facilities in their home countries. A certificate confirming they are tuberculosis-free will also be compulsory, without which a visa will not be issued.

The move comes amidst a decline in tuberculosis cases in Japan, falling below the World Health Organization’s standard for low tuberculosis incidence for two consecutive years. This decline is attributed to increased preventative measures and a decrease in foreign arrivals during the pandemic.

Foreigners accounted for approximately 10% of new tuberculosis cases in Japan, prompting the government to tighten border controls and implement targeted measures for specific nations with high tuberculosis rates.

The six countries in question still report high numbers of tuberculosis cases, with rates as high as 638 cases per 100,000 people in the Philippines, 475 in Myanmar, and 385 in Indonesia.

Despite a decrease in foreign arrivals due to the pandemic, the number is beginning to rise again as travel restrictions ease. Many of the foreign tuberculosis patients diagnosed during their stay in Japan are reportedly young individuals.

“The government wants to ensure that the disease does not develop and spread within Japan,” said an official at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, emphasizing the necessity of the new measures.

Countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and South Korea already require similar tuberculosis testing prior to arrival. The Japanese government is reportedly coordinating with the six Asian countries to determine the specific timing of the introduction of these measures, aiming for an early implementation in fiscal 2024.

The move to introduce pre-entry tuberculosis testing for travelers from these specific Asian countries signifies Japan’s commitment to safeguarding public health and preventing the spread of infectious diseases within its borders.

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