I've been visiting Japan for something like twenty years with Australian passports and never needed to obtain a visa in advance. I've always been granted 90-day stays. I was there a few months before the pandemic and a few months after it.
But just now I was reading a July 20, 2023 article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how Singapore's passport is now the best in the world and also which countries Australia has lost and gained visa-free access to.
Here's the two places they mention Australia-Japan:
The Australian passport’s ascension is due to increasing its visa-free access to 186 destinations around the world, up from 185 earlier this year, after losing visa-free access to Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, and gaining access to Japan, Mongolia, Suriname and Djibouti. It’s Australia’s highest ranking since 2015, and it shares the sixth position with Hungary and Poland.
Newest visa-free destinations for Australians
So is this just a typical ignorant journalism howler, or is there some technical change like maybe we were on a visa-waiver regime before and now we're on a visa-free regime?
I'm Googling for more details but our experts here are more cluey than the Google (-: