The Perfect Enemy | Japan to balance easing border controls with COVID countermeasures
October 5, 2022

Japan to balance easing border controls with COVID countermeasures

Japan to balance easing border controls with COVID countermeasures  Kyodo News PlusView Full Coverage on Google News

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The Japanese government said Monday it must strike a balance between opening up to foreign travelers while keeping the coronavirus pandemic in check, as it looks to revive the world’s third-largest economy which has been hard hit by the absence of tourists.

Japan has faced criticism at home and abroad for failing to keep pace with other Group of Seven nations in opening borders as well as requiring those who do visit to obtain visas and wear masks at all times during their trip.

International-flight passengers arrive at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Sept. 7, 2022. Japan, whose tourism sector has been reeling in the face of strict COVID-19 border controls imposed for more than two years, increased its daily entry cap on arrivals from 20,000 to 50,000 the same day. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference Monday that the government will consider how to alleviate COVID-19 restrictions, while “maintaining a balance between preventing the spread of infection and (promoting) social and economic activities.”

Matsuno’s remarks came a day after Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said in a television appearance that the government is reviewing its border control policy of keeping daily entries below 50,000 and will remove it in the not-so-distant future.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government will simultaneously relax other regulations including the visa requirement, Kihara added.

Matsuno said the government will continue to make appropriate decisions based on the infection situation both at home and abroad as well as the needs of travelers and border steps implemented by other major economies.

Last Wednesday, Japan increased its daily entry cap on arrivals from 20,000 to 50,000. Also, incoming travelers who have been vaccinated at least three times do not need to take coronavirus tests within 72 hours of departure and show proof they are not infected.

In 2021, only 245,900 foreign visitors entered Japan, the lowest figure since comparable data became available in 1964, delivering a significant blow to the country’s travel industry which had been heavily reliant on inbound tourists before the pandemic began in early 2020.

Japan’s economy in the April-June period recovered to its pre-COVID size, with an annualized 3.5 percent growth from a quarter earlier, but analysts said the outlook remains gloomy as a resurgence of infections and rising costs could weigh on consumer spending.

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