PM: Japan may ease entry ban

PM: Japan may ease entry ban

Businesses complain of foreign worker shortage, schools fear impact on students

Staff wait for passengers who need wheelchairs at an arrival gate of Narita international airport near Tokyo on Nov 30, the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. (Reuters Photo)
Staff wait for passengers who need wheelchairs at an arrival gate of Narita international airport near Tokyo on Nov 30, the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. (Reuters Photo)

TOKYO: The Japanese government will consider easing its three-month-old entry ban on nonresident foreigners, amid growing criticism from academic and business circles, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday.

He did not clearly state 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 Feb 28.

“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 a chronic 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 Nov 30, 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.


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