print PRINT

SOCIETY

Editorial: Strengthening airport screening a key part of easing entry restrictions

  • September 6, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 12:42 p.m.
  • English Press

The international flow of people must resume gradually while containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government must improve the testing system at airports.

 

The government has fully lifted the ban on re-entry for all foreigners with Japanese residency status. In addition to screening at the time of entry, incoming foreign nationals must be checked prior to departure to confirm that they are not infected with the virus.

 

New infections in Japan are on a downward trend. It is important to open the door to foreigners gradually while taking appropriate quarantine measures.

 

The number of foreigners with medium- to long-term residency status has risen to about 2.6 million. In addition to permanent residents and spouses of Japanese nationals, this figure includes overseas company workers assigned to Japan, technical interns and foreign students. These are people who work or study in Japan and have their lives based here.

 

Since the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the government has in principle not allowed foreigners, including those with Japanese residency status, to enter Japan. Many gave up on returning to their home countries temporarily because they would not be allowed to re-enter Japan.

 

In some cases, foreign nationals working for Japanese companies have been unable to return from abroad, which has hindered their business activities.

 

Countries in Europe and elsewhere had called on the Japanese government to relax these measures, arguing that they were too strict.

 

Japan has been accepting specialists and laborers from abroad as well as a large number of foreign students. Allowing them to re-enter the country, in order to get the economy and social activities back on a recovery track, is important.

 

As the economy becomes more globalized, it is also important to resume exchanges with countries where infections have subsided.

 

The government additionally plans to allow long-stay businesspeople to travel to and from five economies, including Malaysia, Cambodia and Taiwan.

 

This measure, which follows the reopening of travel to and from Thailand and Vietnam in July, should boost economic activity. The government should assess the state of infections in each country and expand the scope of the easing.

 

The government requires people entering Japan to confine themselves for 14 days and to use the contact-confirmation app for smartphones. Host companies should make those who are entering comply with such matters.

 

The government also plans to resume accepting assistants assigned to schools, and trainees invited by the Japan International Cooperation Agency from developing countries. It is appropriate to prioritize fields of high public interest.

 

It is urgent to strengthen screening measures. The government has said it will increase the test capacity at Narita, Haneda, and Kansai airports to 10,000 per day. However, this is far from sufficient, given that the average number of people entering Japan through these airports was 100,000 per day last year.

 

It is essential to increase the number of quarantine officers and to work with private testing companies. The government has to devise ways to speed up novel coronavirus tests, such as making further use of antigen tests.

 

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 6, 2020.

  • COVID-19
  • OPINION POLLS
  • Trending Japan