Solo Travel to Japan As a Felon

Perhaps in your youth, young and naive, you drank and drove. Perhaps you dappled in the drug trafficking industry.

Now, years later, after serving your sentence and your probation period, you wish to leave all that behind. You wish to travel and explore the world after being cooped up for years. Japan, the land of delicious food and lovely experiences is at the top of your list. Yet, your criminal record stands in your way: can felons travel and enter Japan?

In this article, we wish to address this query and suggest alternatives and methods help such readers who may be in a similar situation.

Can felons enter Japan?

Interestingly, Japan has one of the strictest laws in relation to allowing felons entry into their land. Whether or not you will be denied entry would depend heavily on the nature of your offense and the severity of it.

You will be denied entry into Japan if you fall into any of the following categories:

  1. You have been convicted of a violation of any law of any country, and have been sentenced to imprisonment for 1 year or more (or an equivalent offense)
    • However, this category will not apply to those convicted of a political offense
  2. You have been convicted of a violation of any law of any country that relates to drug use and control (narcotics, marijuana, opium, stimulants, or psychotropic substances), and have been sentenced to a penalty.

This is in accordance with the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, Cabinet Order No. 319 of October 4, 1951. Even if you possess a passport and a visa to enter Japan, you will very likely be denied entry if you fall into the 2 categories set out above.

Still unsure if you will be granted entry into Japan?

Despite the rubrics set out above, the final decision on whether you will be allowed into the country will rest with the Japanese immigration system. If you are still unsure, even with the 2 categories laid out above, as to whether you will be allowed entry into Japan, do contact Japanese Immigration for advice. You can contact them at this link:

Have exceptional circumstances?

Does your felony fall into the 2 categories above, but do you have special and exceptional circumstances for you to enter Japan? The rules above are not absolute. If you have very exceptional reasons and circumstances, email your jurisdictional Embassy or Consulate for instructions on how to apply for a visa, such that your exceptional case can be considered.

Things to note when traveling to Japan with a criminal record

Prepare and do your homework before traveling

Before attempting to travel to Japan, be sure to check Japan’s immigration laws. Ensure that you are aware of what laws are prohibited for entry into Japan, and make sure that your crime does not fall into such categories.

Be honest!

When divulging your criminal records to the appropriate authorities, be completely honest and transparent. Do not lie just to gain entry into Japan! Losing a few weeks of holiday is better than the serious consequences that can occur if you choose to lie: You may have to enter the criminal justice system again, be deported from Japan, and be barred from future entry.

Be patient!

Given the unique circumstances you are in, you are different from a regular traveler! Start processing documents and making inquiries early, and allow time for the authorities to read your case in detail and get back to you. Be patient with the authorities and wait for your case to be processed.

Japan is a beautiful country, rich and vibrant with culture. We hope that this article has been helpful and informative for felons who may wish to pay a visit to this beautiful country.

Are you considering working for an organization in Japan? Understanding some pros and cons of working for an organization in Japan will help you better evaluate if it is the best fit for you. 



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