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.
While most travellers have a healthy and safe trip, there are some risks that are relevant to 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.
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.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.
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.
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.
There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations.
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 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.
Travellers should thoroughly clean all wounds and seek appropriate medical attention.
Country specific information on medical facilities may be found in the ‘health’ section of the FCO foreign travel advice website.
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 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).
Travellers should avoid contact with blood or body fluids. This includes:
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:
Japanese Encephalitis (JE)
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection transmitted to humans from animals (mainly pigs and birds) by mosquitoes which typically breed in rice paddy fields, swamps and marshes. These mosquitoes predominantly feed between dusk and dawn.
Those at increased risk include travellers who are staying for a month or longer during the transmission season, especially if travel will include rural areas with rice fields and marshland.
Travellers on shorter trips (typically less than a month), or trips that take place outside the peak transmission season and those who restrict their visits to urban areas are usually considered to be at very low risk.
Japanese encephalitis in Japan
JE occurs in this country. The transmission season is typically June to September, except on Ryuku Islands (Okinawa) where the season is typically April to December. Rarely cases in travellers are reported outside these months. Local human JE incidence rates may not accurately reflect the risks to non-immune visitors because of high vaccination rates in local populations. High levels of viral transmission can occur in the absence of human disease.
All travellers should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dusk and dawn.
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 domestic or wild animals in this country; therefore most travellers are considered to be at low risk. However, bats may carry bat lyssavirus (bat rabies).
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.
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.
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.
The risks below may be present in all or part of the country and are presented alphabetically.
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.
There is a point of elevation in this country higher than 2,500 metres. An example place of interest, Mt Fuji 3,776m.
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
There is a risk of dengue in this country.
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.
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.
03 May 2017
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
Cases of meningococcal meningitis reported in scouts recently returned from the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan Read more
22 May 2015
Japan has reported 15,285 cases of Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) Read more