To heighten security, the U.S. government will require citizens of 34 countries in the visa waiver program, including Japan, to receive prior online authorization for U.S. trips of 90 days or less.
Starting Jan. 12, those planning sightseeing or business trips will first have to apply and receive approval through the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). After checking the applicants' names, addresses at home and in the United States and other data against U.S. black lists and other information, the U.S. government will authorize entry for those who clear the inspection.
If no problems surface, authorization will be given immediately. However, travelers are advised to apply at least 72 hours before departure in case the examination takes longer.
The ESTA website is < Protected content >, which is in English, Japanese and other languages.
The authorization will be effective for two years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
Airlines' check-in staff will check at Japanese airports if the departing travelers have been authorized to visit the United States.
If you forget, you may be able to make the online application at Narita, but if the reply is delayed you could miss your flight.
Currently, 34 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:
Andorra; Hungary; New Zealand; Australia; Iceland; Norway
Austria; Ireland; Portugal; Belgium; Italy; Republic of Korea
Brunei; Japan; San Marino; Czech Republic; Latvia; Singapore
Denmark; Liechtenstein; Slovakia; Protected content Lithuania; Slovenia
Finland; Luxembourg; Spain; Protected content Monaco; Sweden;
Germany; the Netherlands; Switzerland; Protected content Kingdom