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Transport Ministry retracts halt of bookings of Japan-bound flights

  • December 3, 2021
  • , All national papers
  • JMH Summary

All national dailies wrote that the Ministry of Transport retracted on Thursday its instructions issued to airlines on Monday to completely stop accepting reservations for international flights to Japan until the end of the year as a measure to tighten Japan’s border controls against the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Under the measure, Japanese citizens and foreign residents would have been unable to return to Japan for the holidays unless they already had reservations by Wednesday. The ministry told airlines on Thursday to fully consider demand from Japanese nationals wishing to return home. Under the new instructions, bookings will be allowed as long as they stay below the government’s daily cap of 3,500 passengers arriving from overseas.

 

The ministry’s Civil Aviation Bureau issued the initial request to airlines on Monday as an “emergency precautionary measure” against the Omicron variant without consulting either Prime Minister Kishida or Transport Minister Saito, and the request triggered a backlash from people who were suddenly faced with the prospect of being unable to return home for weeks. Although both Kishida and Saito apologized for the confusion, the papers expressed concern about a lack of communication within the Kishida administration.

 

In a related story, Mainichi wrote that Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, commented on Japan’s ban on new entry by foreign nationals during a press briefing on Wednesday by saying the measure was hard to understand epidemiologically and that preventive steps must be decided based on public health principles rather than for political considerations.

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