Jiji reported that Japanese diplomats are bracing for the looming possibility of diplomatic events that Prime Minister Kishida and Foreign Minister Hayashi plan to attend being canceled on account of the gradual spread of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 around the world. Hayashi’s international diplomatic debut never materialized because an in-person WTO ministerial conference planned for late November in Geneva was called off due to travel restrictions imposed by the Swiss government. The G7 foreign ministerial meeting scheduled for next week in Liverpool, which is intended to strengthen the group’s cooperation with ASEAN to counter China’s presence, may also be canceled depending on the spread of the variant in Europe. The wire service said that while Kishida is eager to visit the U.S. for a summit with President Biden by early January, the prospects for a Washington session are becoming increasingly uncertain, given that many governments, including the Biden administration, may be tempted to restrict diplomatic exchanges even at a high level in a bid to prevent the infiltration of the Omicron variant. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno told the press yesterday that no decision has been made yet on the premier’s trip to the United States.