All national papers reported extensively on the decision by JAL, ANA, and other airlines on Wednesday to stop accepting reservations for international flights to Japan this month in response to a request from the Japanese government. The GOJ reportedly made the request as part of measures to prevent the infiltration of the Omicron variant in anticipation of a rise in the number of holiday travelers from overseas in December. While reservations made in November or earlier will remain valid, the airlines will stop accepting new reservations not only from foreigners but also from Japanese nationals. Reservations for transit flights to third countries via Japan can still be made.
“This is an emergency precaution amid the uncertainty about the nature of the new COVID-19 strain,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno was quoted as telling the press on Wednesday. He also disclosed that no foreigners, including those who have residential status, will be permitted to enter Japan from South Africa, Namibia, and eight other African nations until further notice, adding that the entry of GOJ-sponsored international students and those participating in the JET program has also been prohibited since Tuesday. Travelers from 51 countries and regions, including South Korea, are now required to quarantine at predesignated facilities upon arrival in Japan for up to 10 days. The government spokesperson stressed that Japan-based foreign residents will only be able to enter the country “under truly extraordinary circumstances.”