Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Leading chambers of commerce in Japan have expressed their thanks to Japan’s government “for its efforts in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Japan, and, in particular, for the uniform treatment of re-entry procedures for both Japanese national and foreign residents of Japan.”
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) and the European Business Council (EBC) issued a statement on Feb. 19 in response to the government’s explanation of restrictions on foreigners entering Japan during the state of emergency.
Japan was criticized last year for its restrictive and confusing policy on who could enter or re-enter the country at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. At one point, the government aimed to prevent nearly all foreigners from entering Japan, even those who had gone on holiday or business trips, as well as those who had left families behind.
Foreign residents were allowed to re-enter Japan from September on condition that they could show they had tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departing for Japan. No such restrictions were placed on Japanese returning from abroad.
The daily Asahi Shimbun commented: “One reason Japan is not in line with the standards of other advanced nations is the absence of discussions on not only obligations foreign residents have, but also how to protect their rights as contributing members to society since they are not simply tourists or short-term visitors. Can Japan become a nation trusted in the international community if it is unable to obtain the trust of foreigners who reside here?”
Japan has now brought the rules for foreign residents more into line with Japanese citizens, prompting the note of thanks from the chambers of commerce.
The statement added: “We hope this equal application of the travel measures and public health protocols will continue to be enforced for the benefit of all. Foreign residents and their families actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society through significant personal and financial investment. The ability to travel is not only a critical issue for long-term residents, but also for foreign companies in Japan. The recent easing of re-entry restrictions on long-term residents has helped foreign-based companies maintain operations and continue contributing to Japan’s economy.”