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June 29, 2022
The Japanese government will consider easing its three-month-old entry ban on non-resident foreigners, as a result of increasing criticism from academic and business circles, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed on Saturday.
He did not say exactly when the border controls could be eased. The current measures, imposed at the end of November to prevent the spread of the Omicrom coronavirus variant, are scheduled to end on February 28th.
“We will take into account accumulated scientific knowledge of the Omicron variant, changes in infection conditions inside and outside Japan, and other countries’ border control measures,” Mr Kishida told reporters in Tokyo. The government is preparing to announce the details next week at the earliest, a government source said.
Mr. Kishida’s remarks followed criticism of the entry ban from many academic and business leaders. The measure has prevented international students from entering Japan, prompting some to consider alternatives such as South Korea.
The business community, which is facing an alarming labour shortage, has also asked for the ban to be lifted. The government is considering easing the cap on the number of daily new entrants from abroad from the current 3,500, the source said.
Before November, up to 5,000 people were allowed in each day. The entry ban has been in place since November 30th, when Japan confirmed its first case of Omicron.
The government said last month it plans to allow some government-sponsored foreign students who have less than a year left until they graduate or finish their studies to enter as an exceptional measure.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: JAPAN TIMES