In 1996 I was convicted of felony importation of 23 grams of pot. I served 23 days in jail and paid a $11000 fine and had 30 days to leave the country. In 2018 I tried to go back on my way to China and Vietnam. I was detained at the Narita airport, held incommunicado for 18 hours, and put on the same plane I came in on, back to Portland, against my will.

I can never visit Japan again. But, can I transit through there, on my way to Hanoi, without getting jerked out of line and being sent back again? We're scheduled to leave on the 15th of April, so time is of the essence on this answer.

Thanks for any help.

  • 11
    You've already been unable to transit through Japan once. Why do you think it might have changed? Because of the passage of time? That was only two years ago.
    – phoog
    Mar 14, 2020 at 22:50
  • 5
    Was 2018 also a transit, or an attempted visit? Mar 14, 2020 at 22:53
  • 8
    I'd say the best option would be to contact the nearest Japanese consulate. Or avoid Japan altogether, there are probably many other ways to get to Hanoi. Though in the upcoming 30 days, there are great chances that any form of international travel could become very difficult altogether.
    – jcaron
    Mar 14, 2020 at 23:04
  • 4
    Isn’t applying for a transit visa the only way to know for sure? Although it seems highly unlikely it would be approved.
    – Traveller
    Mar 15, 2020 at 5:41
  • 4
    Why don't you just transit through a different country? A little more money or travel time seem way less risky than dealing with country that really doesn't want you
    – Hilmar
    Mar 15, 2020 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


I posted the question and have since heard from the Japanese Immigration Bureau: the answer is no, if you've been convicted of a felony you cannot land in Japan or transit through it.

  • 5
    You should probably accept this answer.
    – phoog
    Mar 17, 2020 at 23:24
  • 2
    Is it a permanent ban? Mar 19, 2020 at 10:16

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