All national papers except Mainichi reported over the weekend that the GOJ is likely to ease Japan’s strict COVID-related restrictions on the entry of foreign travelers on March 1, projecting that the 3,500 cap on the number of foreign visitors per day may be raised to 5,000 and the current seven-day quarantine period may be shortened to three or five days for arrivals who have received three doses of vaccine. According to the papers, the border will probably be reopened to foreign businesspeople and students first on the condition that host companies and schools monitor the arrivals’ compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols while in Japan. Foreign students who need to attend in-person classes to graduate will be given priority for swift entry.
According to the papers, Prime Minister Kishida commented on Saturday on growing speculation about the administration’s moves to reopen the border. “We have to take into consideration the accumulated scientific knowledge on the Omicron variant, trends in infection situations at home and abroad, and border control measures taken overseas in determining the nation’s new posture at ports of entry,” he said. “Up until now, permission for entry has been granted from the standpoint of the national interest and humanitarian considerations. However, we plan to conduct a review of the key elements of the existing measures as we move toward easing restrictions.”
In a related development, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara said on a Sunday talk show that although it would probably be possible to increase the daily cap of 3,500, raising it beyond 5,000 could be difficult for the time being due in part to limits on diagnostic testing capacities at ports of entry.