General information

The information on these pages should be used to research health risks and to inform the pre-travel consultation. For advice regarding safety and security please check the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.

Travellers should ideally arrange an appointment with their health professional at least four to six weeks before travel. However, even if time is short, an appointment is still worthwhile. This appointment provides an opportunity to assess health risks taking into account a number of factors including destination, medical history, and planned activities. For those with pre-existing health problems, an earlier appointment is recommended.

All travellers should ensure they have adequate travel health insurance.

A list of useful resources including advice on how to reduce the risk of certain health problems is available below.

Resources

Vaccine recommendations

Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.

All Travellers

Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine.

Country specific diphtheria recommendations are not provided here. Diphtheria tetanus and polio are combined in a single vaccine in the UK. Therefore, when a tetanus booster is recommended for travellers, diphtheria vaccine is also given. Should there be an outbreak of diphtheria in a country, diphtheria vaccination guidance will be provided where appropriate.

Those who may be at increased risk of an infectious disease due to their work, lifestyle choice, or certain underlying health problems should be up to date with additional recommended vaccines. See the individual chapters of the ‘Green Book’ Immunisation against infectious disease for further details.

Certificate Requirements

There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations.

Most Travellers

The vaccines in this section are recommended for most travellers visiting this country. Information on these vaccines can be found by clicking on the blue arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.

Tetanus

Tetanus is caused by a toxin released from Clostridium tetani and occurs worldwide. Tetanus bacteria are present in soil and manure and may be introduced through open wounds such as a puncture wound, burn or scratch.

Prevention

Travellers should thoroughly clean all wounds and seek appropriate medical attention.

Tetanus vaccination
  • Travellers should have completed a primary vaccination course according to the UK schedule.
  • If travelling to a country where medical facilities may be limited, a booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended if the last dose was more than ten years ago even if five doses of vaccine have been given previously.

Country specific information on medical facilities may be found in the ‘health’ section of the FCO foreign travel advice website.

 Tetanus in brief

Some Travellers

The vaccines in this section are recommended for some travellers visiting this country. Information on when these vaccines should be considered can be found by clicking on the arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection; it is transmitted by exposure to infected blood or body fluids. This mostly occurs during sexual contact or as a result of blood-to-blood contact (for example from contaminated equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing or body piercing procedures, and sharing of intravenous needles). Mothers with the virus can also transmit the infection to their baby during childbirth.

Hepatitis B in Japan

2% or more of the population are known or thought to be persistently infected with the hepatitis B virus (intermediate/high prevalence).

Prevention

Travellers should avoid contact with blood or body fluids. This includes:

  • avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • avoiding tattooing, piercing, public shaving, and acupuncture (unless sterile equipment is used).
  • not sharing needles or other injection equipment.
  • following universal precautions if working in a medical/dental/high risk setting.

A sterile medical equipment kit may be helpful when travelling to resource poor areas.

Hepatitis B vaccination

Vaccination could be considered for all travellers, and is recommended for those whose activities or medical history put them at increased risk including:

  • those who may have unprotected sex.
  • those who may be exposed to contaminated needles through injecting drug use.
  • those who may be exposed to blood or body fluids through their work (e.g. health workers).
  • those who may be exposed to contaminated needles as a result of having medical or dental care e.g. those with pre-existing medical conditions and those travelling for medical care abroad including those intending to receive renal dialysis overseas.
  • long-stay travellers.
  • those who are participating in contact sports.
  • families adopting children from this country.

Hepatitis B in brief

Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. These mosquitoes usually bite between dusk and dawn, mainly in rural areas; especially where there are rice fields, swamps and marshes. Mosquitoes become infected by biting JE infected animals (particularly pigs) or birds.

Travellers are at increased risk of infection when visiting rural areas. Short trips (usually less than a month) especially if only travelling to urban areas, are considered lower risk.

Japanese encephalitis in Japan

JE occurs countrywide, apart from Hokkaido, where evidence of JE infection is present, but no human cases have been confirmed. Transmission season is typically July to November. Cases may be reported outside these months. Vaccine is not routinely recommended for short trips to Tokyo or major cities.

Prevention

All travellers should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dusk and dawn.

Japanese encephalitis vaccination
  • Vaccination is recommended for those whose activities put them at increased risk (see above).
  • Vaccination could be considered for those on shorter trips if the risk is considered to be sufficient e.g. those spending time in areas where the mosquito breeds such as rice fields, marshlands, or pig farming areas.

Japanese encephalitis in brief

Rabies (Bat Lyssavirus)

Although rare, bat lyssaviruses (bat rabies) can be transmitted to humans or other animals following contact with the saliva of an infected bat most often by a bite. The disease can also be transmitted if the saliva of an infected bat gets into open wounds or mucous membranes (such as on the eye, nose or mouth). Bat lyssaviruses can cause disease in humans that is indistinguishable from rabies.

Symptoms can take some time to develop, but when they do the condition is almost always fatal.

The risk to most travellers is low. However, it is increased for certain occupations for example bat handlers and veterinarians, or certain activities such as caving.

Bat Lyssavirus in Japan

Rabies has not been reported in this country; therefore most travellers are considered to be at low risk. However, bats may carry bat lyssavirus (bat rabies).

Prevention
  • Travellers should avoid contact with bats. Bites from bats are frequently unrecognised. Rabies-like disease caused by bat lyssaviruses is preventable with prompt post-exposure rabies management.
  • Following a possible exposure, wounds should be thoroughly cleansed and an urgent local medical assessment sought, even if the wound appears trivial. Although rabies has not been reported in other animals in this country, it is sensible to seek prompt medical advice if bitten or scratched. It is possible, although very rare for bats to pass rabies like viruses to other animals including pets.
  • Post-exposure treatment and advice should be in accordance with national guidelines.

Rabies vaccination
  • A full course of pre-exposure vaccines simplifies and shortens the course of post-exposure treatment and removes the need for rabies immunoglobulin which is in short supply world-wide.
  • Pre-exposure rabies vaccinations are recommended for those who are at increased risk due to their work (e.g. laboratory staff working with the virus and those working with bats).
  • Pre-exposure vaccines could be considered for those whose activities put them at increased risk of exposure to bats.

Rabies in brief

Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks. Less commonly, cases of TBE occur following ingestion of unpasteurised milk products.

Travellers are at increased risk of exposure during outdoor activities in areas of vegetation (gardens, parks, meadows, forest fringes and glades). Ticks are usually most active between early spring and late autumn.

Tick-borne encephalitis in Japan

There is a risk of TBE in some areas of this country. The main affected area is Hokkaido. There is a possible risk in Shimane Prefecture, Honshu. The transmission season varies, however, ticks are most active during early spring to late autumn.

Prevention
  • All travellers should avoid tick bites during outdoor activities.
  • Travellers should check their skin regularly for ticks and remove them as soon as possible with a recommended technique.
  • Travellers should not eat or drink unpasteurised milk products.

Tick-borne encephalitis vaccination
  • If vaccination is being considered, please seek specialist advice.

Tick-borne encephalitis in brief

Other risks

There are some risks that are relevant to all travellers regardless of destination. These may for example include road traffic and other accidents, diseases transmitted by insects or ticks, diseases transmitted by contaminated food and water, sexually transmitted infections, or health issues related to the heat or cold.

Some additional risks (which may be present in all or part of this country) are mentioned below and are presented alphabetically. Select risk to expand information.

Altitude

There is a risk of altitude illness when travelling to destinations of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) or higher. Important risk factors are the altitude gained, rate of ascent and sleeping altitude. Rapid ascent without a period of acclimatisation puts a traveller at increased risk.

There are three syndromes; acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral oedema (HACE) and high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE). HACE and HAPE require immediate descent and medical treatment.

Altitude illness in Japan

There is a point of elevation in this country higher than 2,500 metres. An example place of interest, Mt Fuji 3,776m.

Prevention
  • Travellers should spend a few days at an altitude below 3,000m.
  • Where possible travellers should avoid travel from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day.
  • Ascent above 3,000m should be gradual. Travellers should avoid increasing sleeping elevation by more than 500m per day and ensure a rest day (at the same altitude) every three or four days.
  • Acetazolamide can be used to assist with acclimatisation, but should not replace gradual ascent.
  • Travellers who develop symptoms of AMS (headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and sleep disturbance) should avoid further ascent. In the absence of improvement or with progression of symptoms the first response should be to descend.
  • Development of HACE or HAPE symptoms requires immediate descent and emergency medical treatment.

Altitude illness in brief

Biting insects or ticks

Insect or tick bites can cause irritation and infections of the skin at the site of a bite. They can also spread certain diseases.

Diseases in Eastern Asia

There is a risk of insect or tick-borne diseases in some areas of Eastern Asia. This includes diseases such as chikungunya, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic feverleishmaniasis and scrub typhus.

Prevention
  • All travellers should avoid insect and tick bites day and night.
  • There are no vaccinations (or medications) to prevent these diseases.

Further information about specific insect or tick-borne diseases for this country can be found, if appropriate on this page, in other sections of the country information pages and the insect and tick bite avoidance factsheet.

Dengue

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes which predominantly feed between dawn and dusk. It causes a flu-like illness, which can occasionally develop into a more serious life-threatening form of the disease. Severe dengue is rare in travellers.

The mosquitoes that transmit dengue are most abundant in towns, cities and surrounding areas. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk 

Dengue in Japan

There is a risk of dengue in this country.

Prevention
  • All travellers should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dawn and dusk.
  • There is currently no medication or vaccination available for travellers to prevent dengue.

Dengue in brief

Influenza (seasonal)

Seasonal influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract and spreads easily from person to person via respiratory droplets when coughing and sneezing. Symptoms appear rapidly and include fever, muscle aches, headache, malaise (feeling unwell), cough, sore throat and a runny nose. In healthy individuals, symptoms improve without treatment within two to seven days. Severe illness is more common in those aged 65 years or over, those under 2 years of age, or those who have underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for complications of influenza.

Seasonal influenza in Japan

Seasonal influenza occurs throughout the world. In the northern hemisphere (including the UK), most influenza occurs from as early as October through to March. In the southern hemisphere, influenza mostly occurs between April and September. In the tropics, influenza can occur throughout the year.

Prevention

All travellers should:

  • Avoid close contact with symptomatic individuals
  • Avoid crowded conditions where possible
  • Wash their hands frequently
  • Practise ‘cough hygiene’: sneezing or coughing into a tissue and promptly discarding it safely, and washing their hands
  • Avoid travel if unwell with influenza-like symptoms
  • A vaccine is available in certain circumstances (see below)*

*In the UK, seasonal influenza vaccine is offered routinely each year to those at higher risk of developing of severe disease following influenza infection, and certain additional groups such as healthcare workers and children as part of the UK national schedule (see information on vaccination). For those who do not fall into these groups, vaccination may be available privately.

If individuals at higher risk of severe disease following influenza infection are travelling to a country when influenza is likely to be circulating they should ensure they received a flu vaccination in the previous 12 months.

The vaccine used in the UK protects against the strains predicted to occur during the winter months of the northern hemisphere. It is not possible to obtain vaccine for the southern hemisphere in the UK, but the vaccine used during the UK influenza season should still provide important protection against strains likely to occur during the southern hemisphere influenza season, and in the tropics.

Avian influenza

Avian influenza viruses can rarely infect and cause disease in humans. Such cases are usually associated with close exposure to infected bird or animal populations. Where appropriate, information on these will be available in the outbreaks and news sections of the relevant country pages. Seasonal influenza vaccines will not provide protection against avian influenza.

Avian influenza in brief

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection. Schistosoma larvae are released from infected freshwater snails and can penetrate intact human skin following contact with contaminated freshwater. Travellers may be exposed during activities such as wading, swimming, bathing or washing clothes in freshwater streams, rivers or lakes.

Schistosomiasis infection may cause no symptoms, but early symptoms can include a rash and itchy skin (‘swimmer’s itch’), fever, chills, cough, or muscle aches. If not treated, it can cause serious long term health problems such as intestinal or bladder disease.

Schistosomiasis in Japan

Cases of schistosomiasis have previously been reported from this country, however according to World Health Organization in 2012, transmission of schistosoma larvae in fresh water may have been interrupted. Most travellers are considered to be at very low risk.

Prevention
  • There is no vaccine or tablets to prevent schistosomiasis.
  • All travellers should avoid wading, swimming, or bathing in freshwater where possible. Swimming in chlorinated water or sea water is not a risk for schistosomiasis.
  • Topical application of insect repellent before exposure to water, or towel drying after accidental exposure to schistosomiasis are not reliable in preventing infection.
  • All travellers who may have been exposed to schistosomiasis should have a medical assessment.

Schistosomiasis in brief

Important News

26 Jun 2019

Japan: Rugby World Cup 2019

Travelling to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup?Check out our travel health advice Read more

03 May 2017

Changes to the Country Information pages: Tick-borne encephalitis

NaTHNaC has reviewed and updated the tick-borne encephalitis country specific information in order to provide up-to-date recommendations for traveller Read more

17 Aug 2015

Meningococcal meningitis: scouts returned from Japan

Cases of meningococcal meningitis reported in scouts recently returned from the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan Read more

22 May 2015

Hand, foot and mouth disease in the Western Pacific region

Japan has reported 15,285 cases of Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) Read more

Outbreaks

Using information collated from a variety of sources, we regularly review and update information on overseas disease outbreaks and other health issues that may affect the UK traveller.

Please note that not all cases of disease or outbreaks are reported; some diseases may only be reported if they occur outside of the usual recognised risk area or season, or they have been reported in greater than usual numbers.

Further information on the Outbreak Surveillance section.

24 Oct 2018 Japan

Health officials in Japan have reported an outbreak of rubella. Most cases continue to be reported in the Kanto region (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama). As of 14 October, 1289 cases have been reported in 2018 nationally. Ninety one cases were reported in 2017.

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