Reconsider travel to Japan due to COVID-19.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19.
Japan has resumed most business operations (including day cares and schools). COVID-19 is still a serious concern in Tokyo and across many areas of Japan, and restrictions on entry remain in effect. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Japan.
Read the country information page.
If you travel to Japan, you should:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Discuss travel to Japan with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Japan.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
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- The United States and India: Deepening our Strategic PartnershipBy Sam NewsJuly 27, 2021
- Commercial Space Transportation: FAA Continues to Update Regulations and Faces Challenges to Overseeing an Evolving IndustryBy Sam NewsJune 17, 2021What GAO Found The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently updated and streamlined its launch and reentry licensing regulations but has made less progress on other key commercial space transportation regulations. The new licensing regulations, issued in December 2020, replaced prescriptive requirements—in which a certain technology or action was required—with a performance-based regulatory framework, which provides applicants flexibility in how they achieve required outcomes, such as a specific level of safety. Given its focus on the licensing regulations, FAA placed on hold revisions to other regulations governing commercial space transportation—revisions which, according to FAA officials, are warranted given the industry's evolution. For example, FAA has not yet begun to revise its financial responsibility regulations, which require launch companies conducting FAA-licensed launches to purchase insurance to cover damage to third parties in case of a launch mishap. According to FAA officials, revising these regulations is their next planned rulemaking and when finalized, will respond to GAO's recommendations to improve FAA's methodologies for evaluating and calculating potential third-party losses from launch and reentry mishaps and help ensure the federal government is not exposed to greater liability than expected. FAA also faces ongoing challenges regulating an evolving industry. In particular, as GAO previously reported, FAA continues to face the challenge of whether and when to regulate the safety of crew and spaceflight participants. While some companies have announced plans to take tourists to space within the next several years, FAA is prohibited by statute from regulating crew and passenger safety before 2023, except in response to events that caused or posed a risk of serious or fatal injury. However, FAA has taken some steps in anticipation of the expiration of the statutory moratorium, such as working with its industry advisory committee to develop and disseminate human spaceflight best practices. FAA also has taken some steps to help the agency keep pace with changes in the industry. For example, in response to recommendations GAO made in 2019, FAA recently assessed its workforce to identify skills and competencies that are needed among its workforce and is working to improve its workload projections to better account for the full range of its regulatory activities and the timeline of its licensing process. Such efforts are critical for ensuring FAA can better anticipate and respond to the growing and evolving commercial space industry and FAA's emerging workforce needs. Why GAO Did This Study The commercial space transportation industry provides launch services for government and private customers that carry objects, such as satellites and vehicles with scientific research, or passengers to or from space. Continued growth and evolution in the industry is expected as reliance on space-based applications increases. Within FAA, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) is charged both with overseeing the industry, including licensing and monitoring launch vehicle operations, and promoting the industry. This statement describes FAA's efforts to update regulations governing commercial space transportation; challenges FAA faces regulating an evolving industry; and steps FAA has taken to help ensure it is positioned to meet the needs of the evolving industry. This statement is based largely on GAO's body of work on commercial space transportation, including GAO-19-437 issued in May 2019. To update this information, GAO interviewed FAA officials and reviewed applicable statutes, regulations and selected industry documents.[Read More…]
- Disarmament Law and Morality: A CritiqueBy Sam NewsNovember 13, 2020Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
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- Fraudster Sentenced to Prison for Long Running Phone Unlocking Scheme that Defrauded AT&TBy Sam NewsSeptember 16, 2021Muhammad Fahd, a citizen of Pakistan and Grenada, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for his leadership role in a seven-year scheme to unlawfully unlock nearly 2 million phones to defraud AT&T Inc. (AT&T), inflicting more than $200 million in losses. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted that Fahd had committed a “terrible cybercrime over an extended period,” even after he was aware that law enforcement was investigating.[Read More…]
- Navy Readiness: Actions Needed to Evaluate and Improve Surface Warfare Officer Career PathBy Sam NewsJune 18, 2021What GAO Found U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) separate from the SWO community earlier and at higher rates compared with officers in similar U.S. Navy communities, and female SWOs separate at higher rates than male SWOs. Retention Rates for U.S. Navy Officers and Surface Warfare Officers by Gender Note: GAO compared the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer community separation rates with those of the other unrestricted line officer communities in the U.S. Navy: Naval Aviation, Submarine, and Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Special Warfare. GAO found that after 10 years of service, around the first major career milestone: 33 percent of SWOs remain in their community, compared with 45 percent of officers from similar U.S. Navy officer communities, and 12 percent of female SWOs remain in their community, compared with 39 percent of male SWOs. By using existing information to develop a plan to improve SWO retention, the Navy will be better positioned to retain a diverse and combat-ready community. The career path for U.S. Navy SWOs differs from those in similar positions in selected foreign navies and other U.S. Navy and U.S. maritime communities. Career Path for U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officers Compared with Others The U.S. Navy made incremental career path changes for SWOs following the 2017 collisions, but has not regularly evaluated or fundamentally changed its SWO career path for over a century. GAO found that by a factor of four to one, SWOs believe specialized career paths would better prepare them for their duties than the current generalist career path. Without periodic evaluations of current approaches, including alternative career paths, and the use of those evaluations, the U.S. Navy may miss an opportunity to develop and retain proficient SWOs. Why GAO Did This Study SWOs are U.S. Navy officers whose primary duties focus on the safe operation of surface ships at sea. In 2017, the Navy had two collisions at sea that resulted in the death of 17 sailors and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to Navy ships. Following the collisions, the Navy identified deficiencies in the SWO career path and staffing policies, and took action to improve these areas. The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 contained a provision that GAO assess issues related to the U.S. Navy SWO career path. Among other things, this report (1) assesses trends in separation rates of SWOs with those of similar U.S. Navy officer communities, and trends in SWO separation rates by gender; (2) describes how the career path of U.S. Navy SWOs compares to those of selected foreign navies and other U.S. Navy and U.S. maritime communities; and (3) assesses the extent to which the U.S. Navy has used or evaluated alternative career paths. GAO analyzed U.S. Navy officer personnel data; selected foreign navies and U.S. maritime officer communities for comparison; and surveyed a generalizable sample of Navy SWOs.[Read More…]
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- Researcher Pleaded Guilty to Conspiring to Steal Scientific Trade Secrets from Ohio Children’s Hospital to Sell in ChinaBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020Former Ohio woman Li Chen, 46, pleaded guilty today via video conference in U.S. District Court today to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets and conspiring to commit wire fraud concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions.[Read More…]
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- Close Air Support: Actions Needed to Enhance Friendly Force Tracking Capabilities and Fully Evaluate TrainingBy Sam NewsJanuary 21, 2021The Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress implementing initiatives to enhance capabilities that are used to identify friendly force locations during close air support (CAS) missions, but GAO identified additional actions that are needed to strengthen these efforts. Specifically, DOD has made limited progress in implementing 10 changes the department approved to address gaps in the interoperability of digital communications systems used to conduct CAS, hindering efforts to improve the speed and accuracy of information exchanges. DOD's efforts to assess the interoperability of digital systems used to perform CAS have been limited in scope. GAO found that DOD had formally assessed two out of 10 approved changes during joint service and multinational events, and these assessments were not conducted in a training environment that replicated capabilities of near-peer adversaries. DOD implemented a new capability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to help identify the positions of friendly forces during CAS missions. However, GAO found that DOD did not provide adequate training for personnel who operate it or conduct an evaluation to resolve implementation challenges that have hampered its performance. DOD conducts evaluations of training programs for forces that participate in CAS missions, but GAO identified two areas where DOD can improve its efforts. First, the Army and Marine Corps have not systematically evaluated the effectiveness of periodic training for ground observers providing targeting information due to a lack of centralized systems for tracking training data and the absence of designated entities to monitor service-wide training. Second, the use of contract aircraft for training increased substantially between 2017 and 2019, but DOD has not fully evaluated the use of non-military contract aircraft to train air controllers for CAS (see fig.). GAO found that differences between U.S. military aircraft and contract aircraft (e.g., airspeed) can result in a misalignment of aircraft capabilities for certain types of training events. Without evaluating CAS training fully, DOD cannot have assurance that its forces are prepared to conduct CAS missions safely and effectively. Number of Hours Non-Military Aircraft Were Used to Train for Close Air Support for Fiscal Years 2017 through 2019 The use of ordnance delivered by aircraft to support U.S. military forces that are in close proximity to enemy forces on the ground requires detailed planning, seamless communications, and effective training. Mistakes in communications or procedures used to identify and maintain an awareness of the positions of friendly forces on the battlefield during CAS can result in the loss of U.S. military personnel. Senate Report 116-48 and House Report 116-120, accompanying bills for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, included provisions for GAO to evaluate issues related to friendly-force identification capabilities in CAS missions. Among other things, this report evaluates the extent to which DOD has (1) implemented initiatives to enhance friendly-force identification capabilities during CAS, and (2) evaluated training for forces that participate in CAS. GAO analyzed documentation and interviewed officials regarding DOD efforts to develop and implement friendly force tracking capabilities for CAS; reviewed CAS training programs; and analyzed training data, including the number of hours that DOD used non-military contract aircraft for CAS training from 2017 through 2019. GAO is making 11 recommendations to DOD, including that DOD implement and assess initiatives to improve the interoperability of digital systems used in CAS and take additional steps to evaluate the training for certain forces that participate in CAS missions. DOD concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431 or RussellC@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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- Defense Logistics: Army Should Track Financial Benefits Realized from its Logistics Modernization ProgramBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO FoundThe Army Materiel Command (AMC) is using the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) Increment 1 to support its industrial operations, but additional development is necessary, according to the Army, because the current system does not support certain critical requirements, including enabling the Army to generate auditable financial statements by fiscal year 2017. Officials at the 14 AMC sites GAO visited stated that LMP provided the core functionality they needed to support their operations and that they are improving in their ability to use the system. Additionally, some sites have locally developed tools to augment LMP capabilities. Army officials stated that although LMP is functional, it currently does not support certain critical requirements that have emerged since its initial development, such as automatically tracking repair and manufacturing operations on the shop floor of depots and arsenals. In addition, according to Army officials, the current system will not enable the Army to generate auditable financial statements by 2017, the statutory deadline for this goal. Increment 2, which is estimated to cost $730 million through fiscal year 2026, is expected to address these shortcomings. The Army is in the process of developing Increment 2 and expects to complete fielding by September 2016.The use of LMP Increment 1 has provided the Army some benefits, but whether the system has delivered the expected financial benefits to date is unknown because AMC does not have a process for tracking financial benefits realized. Since its deployment, LMP has provided some benefits to the Army. For example, because LMP relies on accurate data to perform effectively and efficiently, the Army has made data accuracy a priority and improved the accuracy of its data by conducting data assessments, correcting data problems, and placing management emphasis on data accuracy. Additionally, the use of LMP has improved accountability for inventory stored at AMC depots, increased visibility over Army assets, and resulted in other efficiencies--such as providing faster access to information. AMC officials also stated that LMP has enabled them to develop and begin to implement a set of standardized, enterprise-wide performance measures to better assess the business operations of AMC sites. The officials stated that these performance measures, which were being used during AMC leadership reviews in June 2013, were necessary because the measures previously used to assess AMC performance were inadequate. However, the extent to which financial benefits have been realized from deploying LMP is unknown. The Army expected LMP to lead to over $750 million in financial benefits by fiscal year 2012 and eventually achieve more than two dollars in benefits for every dollar spent. Army officials told us that there currently is no accurate process in place to track financial benefits associated with LMP. Officials stated that the inability to quantify benefits from LMP-driven performance improvements was due in part to the fluctuations in AMC workload resulting from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army is in the process of developing a performance baseline for sites that will pilot Increment 2, and it intends to apply these metrics to other AMC sites before May 2015. Federal guidelines and standards outline the need for assessing whether the benefits expected from an investment are achieved. Without a process in place to track the financial benefits associated with LMP, the Army does not have a way to determine whether LMP's projected financial benefits are materializing.Why GAO Did This StudyLMP is an Army enterprise resource planning system that supports industrial operations conducted by AMC at its life cycle management commands and its maintenance, manufacturing, and storage sites. Increment 1 of LMP was fully deployed in October 2010, and the Army has spent approximately $1.4 billion on LMP through fiscal year 2012. In order to expand the system's capabilities, the Army plans to deploy a second increment of LMP. The life cycle cost for LMP Increment 1 and Increment 2, from fiscal year 2000 through 2026, is estimated to be over $4 billion. GAO was asked to evaluate AMC's use of LMP. This report assesses the extent to which (1) LMP supports AMC's industrial operations and (2) the Army has realized the expected benefits from deploying LMP. GAO reviewed Army documents regarding LMP usage and interviewed officials from AMC headquarters, the LMP product office, and 14 AMC sites that use LMP to conduct their operations.[Read More…]
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Cost and Schedule Risks in Modernization Program Echo Long-Standing ChallengesBy Sam NewsJuly 14, 2021What GAO Found While the Department of Defense (DOD) approaches its full-rate production decision point (which would formally authorize DOD's transition from development to full production), the F-35 program is producing nearly 25 percent of the total planned aircraft in low-rate initial production before satisfying the criteria for full-rate production. As it approaches this major milestone, the program has taken steps to but has not fully addressed a number of challenges, even though GAO recommended that it do so, such as the need to: resolve critical deficiencies with the aircraft; ensure critical manufacturing processes are mature; address supply chain issues that strain production and sustainment; and take steps to ensure reliability and maintainability goals are met. Compounding these production issues is the fact that the program has not completed operational testing on the aircraft to ensure warfighters get the capabilities they require, primarily due to increasing delays with the aircraft simulator. In August 2020, the program office determined the simulator—to be used to replicate complex test scenarios that could not be accomplished in real-world environment testing—did not fully represent F-35 capabilities and could not be used for further testing until fixed. Since then, program officials have been developing a new plan to ensure the simulator works as intended. Until this happens, the full-rate production date remains undetermined (see figure). F-35 Operational Test Schedule and Key Events through 2021, as of June 2021 At the same time that the program is resolving risks with the baseline program, DOD is encountering similar cost and schedule increases with its F-35 modernization effort. In the 3 years of Block 4 capability development, the total estimated cost of Block 4 increased from $10.6 billion to $14.4 billion. This increase is, in part, a recognition of all costs, past and future, estimated to be required to complete the effort. As GAO recommended in May 2020, DOD now reports all Block 4 costs, not just those associated with the near term. While DOD added another year to the Block 4 schedule, in March 2021 GAO found the remaining development time frame is not achievable. Unless the F-35 program accounts for historical performance in the schedule estimates, the Block 4 schedule will continue to exceed estimated time frames and stakeholders will lack reliable information on when the modernized capabilities will be delivered. Why GAO Did This Study The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program began development in 2001 and remains DOD's most expensive weapon system program. Currently, the program is more than 8 years delayed and $165 billion over original cost expectations. As the program progresses toward completing operational testing of the aircraft's baseline capabilities, it still faces risks. DOD is also 3 years into an effort, called Block 4, to modernize the F-35 aircraft's capabilities. Block 4 is loosely based on Agile software development processes. With this approach, DOD intends to incrementally develop, test, and deliver small groups of new capabilities every 6 months. This testimony discusses acquisition-related risks in the F-35 program. It is based largely on findings in GAO's March 2021 and May 2020 annual reports (GAO-21-226; GAO-20-339) on F-35 acquisition.[Read More…]
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- Afghanistan and Iraq: DOD Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open Pit Burning and Solid Waste ManagementBy Sam NewsAugust 23, 2021From the start of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military and its contractors have burned solid waste in open burn pits on or near military bases. According to the Department of Defense (DOD), burn pit emissions can potentially harm human health. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) guidance directs the military's use of burn pits, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) provides healthcare and other benefits to veterans and their families. GAO was asked to report on the (1) extent of open pit burning in Afghanistan and Iraq, and whether the military has followed its guidance; (2) alternatives to burn pits, and whether the military has examined them; and (3) extent of efforts to monitor air quality and potential health impacts. GAO visited four burn pits in Iraq, reviewed DOD data on burn pits, and consulted DOD and VA officials and other experts. GAO was unable to visit burn pits in Afghanistan.The military has relied heavily on open pit burning in both conflicts, and operators of burn pits have not always followed relevant guidance to protect servicemembers from exposure to harmful emissions. According to DOD, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq generate about 10 pounds of solid waste per soldier each day. The military has relied on open pit burning to dispose of this waste mainly because of its expedience. In August 2010, CENTCOM estimated there were 251 burn pits in Afghanistan and 22 in Iraq. CENTCOM officials said the number of burn pits is increasing in Afghanistan and decreasing in Iraq, which reflects U.S. troop reallocations and efforts to install waste incinerators. Despite its reliance on burn pits, CENTCOM did not issue comprehensive burn pit guidance until 2009. Furthermore, to varying degrees, operators of burn pits at four bases GAO visited in Iraq were not complying with key elements of this guidance, such as restrictions on the burning of items, including plastic, that produce harmful emissions. DOD officials also said that, from the start of each conflict, operators routinely burned items that are now prohibited. The continued burning of prohibited items has resulted from a number of factors, including the constraints of combat operations, resource limitations, and contracts with burn pit operators that do not reflect current guidance. Waste management alternatives could decrease the reliance on and exposure to burn pits, but DOD has been slow to implement alternatives or fully evaluate their benefits and costs, such as avoided future costs of potential health effects. Various DOD guidance documents discourage long-term use of burn pits, encourage the use of incinerators and landfills, or encourage waste minimization such as source reduction. DOD has installed 39 solid waste incinerators in Iraq and 20 in Afghanistan, and plans to install additional incinerators in Afghanistan. To date, source reduction practices have not been widely implemented in either country and recycling consists primarily of large scrap metals. DOD plans to increase recycling at its bases in Iraq, but recycling at bases in Afghanistan has been limited. Further, DOD has not fully analyzed its waste stream in either country and lacks the information to decrease the toxicity of its waste stream and enhance waste minimization. U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq do not sample or monitor burn pit emissions as provided by a key CENTCOM regulation, and the health impacts of burn pit exposure on individuals are not well understood, partly because the military does not collect required data on emissions or exposures from burn pits. Army public health officials have, however, sampled the ambient air at bases in each conflict and found high levels of particle pollution that causes health problems but is not unique to burn pits. These officials identified logistical and other challenges in monitoring burn pit emissions, and U.S. Forces have yet to establish pollutant monitoring systems. DOD and VA have commissioned studies to enhance their understanding of burn pit emissions, but the lack of data on emissions specific to burn pits and related exposures limit efforts to characterize potential health impacts on service personnel, contractors, and host-country nationals. Among other things, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense improve DOD's adherence to relevant guidance on burn pit operations and waste management, and analyze alternatives to its current practices. In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD said that it concurred with five of the six recommendations and partially concurred with the sixth. GAO addressed a DOD suggestion to clarify the sixth recommendation. VA reviewed the draft report and had no comments.[Read More…]