Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

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Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby tantan » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:56 am

Hi everyone,

My usual practice when travelling is to carry my own personal medications and equipment, declare nothing, but have a letter from my doctor in case any questions arise. However, I remember people have mentioned on this forum in the past (and I've also heard in passing from other T1Ds) about special forms and requirements for travel to Japan.

I have found this website (http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/he ... ls/01.html), which talks about the requirement for a 'Yakkan Shoumei', which is the permit allowing prescriptions medicines and medical aids to be brought into Japan. There is also a FAQ here (http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/he ... dl/qa1.pdf), which gives further details on the requirements and the form.

From the information given, it's clear that I don't need to do anything to carry insulin. I will only be in Japan for a week, so it will fall within the one month supply guidelines. The guidelines also state that 'pre-filled syringes' and 'self-injection kits' are fine within the one month supply rule, and 'one set' of medical aids are fine as well. However, I scrolled further through the FAQ document, and saw that one of the examples given for using the Yakkan Shoumei was for a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. I'm now wondering if I should apply for the Yakkan Shoumei for my pump, and potentially also my blood testing equipment, as I will be carrying more than one 'set' of these (ie. I will have spares).

Has anyone been to Japan lately? Did you do any of this?
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby Kezza » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:35 pm

I've been to Japan three times and I applied for the 'Yakkan Shoumei' at least one of those times. From memory it was because I was on my way to Canada for a year and so was carrying more than a month's supply. I don't remember it being a huge hassle to get, but it was a long time ago. In 2013 I didn't apply and had no problems, but didn't read the part about 'home devices'.

I would advise applying for one if you're concerned. Japan has a reputation for very strictly enforcing rules regardless of whether the rule makes sense. There's some evidence on that page that their definitions are quite strict too (an insulin pen is a home medical device....). Best to be sure.... if I go again now that I've seen the 'home medical devices' clause I'll be applying for one.

Mind out for their rules for general medication too. Codeine is easy to get in Australia and will get you in trouble in Japan. Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride is a little bit harder to get now, but it's still in Sudafed which is behind the counter medication. It will get you arrested in Japan. Check ingredients lists for anything you're taking for personal use like painkillers or cold/flu tablets.

Good luck, Japan is a fabulous place to travel, I hope you enjoy it.
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby straygaijin » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:10 am

I've spent considerable amount of time in Japan, both when I was living there and on subsequent visits. In fact I was diagnosed while I was living in Japan.

I have never had any issue with my insulin or pump, one time they asked me what it was when giving me a hand scan, I said Type 1 Diabetes and there was no further issues.

You'll be fine without applying for anything relating to T1 though you should pay attention to other prescription drugs you might take.

Have a great time in Japan!
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby tedos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:01 pm

Just came back from Japan, didn't have any issues at the airport. I showed them the pump and they seem to know what it was. I was only there for two weeks so didn't have much insulin on me but they didn't ask.
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby AJM » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:51 am

It has been three years since I last travelled in Japan, so I do not qualify to give an opinion on recent experiences. Besides, I was MDI then, now on pump. On two trips (just shy of a month) no trouble on entry into Japan nor travelling and hiking over snowy mountain trails.
On my next trip (sigh) I wil have to rethink my strategies for using the onsen. (remove pump? remove inset? ...)

The only hitches: Since diagnosis, twice Qantas would not let me check-in online for Narita departures; so twice I had to line up in mega queues (despite paying fro Qantas Club etc), twice to be told by the Qantas check-in staff at Natrita that if I am going to inject insulin then I need to go to the plane's toilet. Ridiculous! Where did that come from? Qantas Operations Manual unchanged since Banting was a boy? It never gets raised with me when I leaving Australia nor on domestic flights - any airline. I suspect it got triggered by selecting a "diabetic" dinner (usually a lentil sludge).
I have been meaning to raise it with Qantas ever since, but they make it very hard to contact a real person.

These days, now on a pump and happily following a ketogenic adapted diet, I will bring my own foods to rely on (sausages, cheeses as smelly as possible, nuts, carrots ...)

Incidentally, and slightly off topic, despite having lived for several years in Japan many years prior to diagnosis, in my last two trips I inadvertantly followed a keto-friendly diet. This was pre-K-epiphany. By avoiding rice and noodles etc, I saw how flatlined my BGLs became. It was only later, when I read the science-based research papers that I realised I had not been advised of the option even to consider a fully science-based ketogenic apdated diet.

(I told all of my then health providers of my experience but none showed any interest in why or how I suddenly avoided all spikes, lowered the BGLs considerably, had no hypos and had no dawn effect. Draw your own conclusions.)

So, not only can you travel in Japan for less than a month with little risk regualtory complications for pump or MDI consumables, you can also easily travel far and wide, and in remoter places, keeping to a keto-adapated diet.
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby Mel » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:16 pm

That is concerning. Would Qantas not let you check in online because you asked for a diabetic meal and did they give you that message about having to inject in the toilet when you checked in?

That is really weird, Virgin used to be difficult about carrying needles but I have not heard of anyone having problems with Qantas. I am going to tweet about this-I have always had rapid responses to tweets when I tag @Qantas.
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby Mel » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:30 pm

Perhaps it's a Japanese requirement-like flights out of Australia used not allow metal knives-Singapore airlines used to apologise profusely about that and out of Singapore you'd get a real knife. I'll try to check anyway, the moral of the story as far as I can tell is don't ask for a diabetic meal?
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby tantan » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:35 pm

Well, I am back from Japan. First, thank you to everyone who responded with their thoughts on my question!

I never got around to applying for the Yakkan Shoumei, as I was away for a couple of weeks before the trip to Japan, and simply never found the time to decipher the form. I didn't declare anything on entry to Japan, and went through customs with no issues. They only thing they were interested in knowing was what was in my big mailing tube (answer: a poster for the conference I was attending). Despite the fact that I didn't apply for the YS, I did give it some thought as to how I would respond regarding the insulin pump and multiple BGL meters issue that I mentioned in my first post, just in case the question arose. I decided that I would argue that I was carrying only a single 'set' of each item, as they were all different, and thus my devices fit within the guidelines as described on the first weblink that I posted. To clarify, I had my pump (no spare, as it's a loan pump already - I had an insulin pen as backup), a Dario meter (I use it during the day), a Freestyle Lite meter (I use it at a night because I detest needing to get up and turn on a light to test), and a Freestyle Libre (currently having a trial run on this to see what I think of it - it was awesome for traveling!). So no exact duplicates of any items. Who knows if my argument would have worked though?!?
Diagnosed 07/12/2007

One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar.
-- Helen Keller
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Re: Travel to Japan? (did you apply for the Yakkan Shoumei?)

Postby straygaijin » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:45 pm

Glad you had no issues.

If queried I probably would have just said my meters are purchased without prescription so are not medical devices or aids.

I normally carry several meters on me when travelling and never been an issue.
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