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Japan set to relax COVID-19 border controls on March 1

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (second left), observes a vaccination site for staff members set up to protect against the coronavirus at the Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (AP)
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (second left), observes a vaccination site for staff members set up to protect against the coronavirus at the Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (AP)
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16 Feb 2022 12:02:13 GMT9
16 Feb 2022 12:02:13 GMT9

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio has decided to ease his country’s pandemic-linked border controls on March 1 at the earliest, informed sources said Tuesday.

On the day, Kishida discussed the issue with officials including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeshi Fujii and Toshihide Ando, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Affairs Bureau, and basically approved a draft plan, presented by the Cabinet Secretariat, to relax the entry restrictions.

The prime minister will shortly announce the easing plan, according to the sources.

In response to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus, the government introduced stricter entry restrictions on Nov. 30 last year, including a basic ban on new entries into Japan by foreign nationals.

The government now plans to basically rescind the stricter measures, the sources said.

Specifically, foreign tourists will continue to be banned from entering Japan, while business travelers, students and technical trainees will be admitted to the country on certain conditions including that their hosts will take responsibility to monitor their whereabouts.

The seven-day quarantine rule will also be relaxed for those who test negative for the coronavirus three or more days after arriving in Japan.

The number of people allowed to enter the country per day will be raised back to around 5,000 from the current 3,500.

On Tuesday, Tomohiro Yamamoto, director of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s education division, visited Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno to request the government to reopen the borders for foreign students as soon as possible.

Matsuno said the government will consider the matter promptly, with the start of a new school year in Japan in April in mind.

As of the end of 2021, there were some 150,000 foreign students who were unable to come to Japan, although they had visas.

JIJI Press

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