Japan eases COVID border controls after two years of ‘isolation policy’ | Japan

Media reports said Thursday that Japan will ease its strict border controls from next month, following criticism from students, workers and family members who were in place.closeout of the country for up to two years.

The restrictions, which limit access for Japanese citizens and returning foreign residents, have affected 150,000 students, prompting accusations from politicians and business leaders that the ban is hurting the country’s economy and the world’s image.

Japan The rules were briefly relaxed last year but Pull them again in November in an effort to prevent the spread of the highly contagious variant Omicron from Corona Virus.

The opening will be gradual, however, it will not apply to it tourists. The Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, is expected to announce later on Thursday an increase in daily arrivals from 3,500 to 5,000, as well as a one- to three-day quarantine reduction for people with a negative test result and proof that they have received an encouraging boost.

“We are studying how to ease border control measures by taking into account the scientific evidence that has become available regarding the Omicron strain and changing contagion conditions at home and abroad,” Kyodo quoted Prime Minister Hirokazu Matsuno as saying. news agency.

Kishida appeared reluctant to loosen the measures popular with the public ahead of upper house elections in July.

But he has come under pressure from business leaders who have said the restrictions amount to a “policy of isolation” that would exacerbate Japan’s chronic labor shortage. A Kishida party member said the ban is pointless given that the Omicron has become the dominant strain in Japan.

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“If you look at the general situation now, it makes no sense; you can catch the virus anywhere. But as a result of having [the restrictions]And [Kishida] “It got a lot of popular support,” said political analyst Atsu Ito.

He added that failure to lift at least some of the restrictions would risk seeing Japan “behind the rest of the world”.

Government health experts said the sixth wave of the virus fueled by Omicron peaked earlier this month after data showed a weekly decline in new infections in most age groups.

While new cases are trending down, the latest wave of infections in Japan has taken a much weaker human toll, with a record 236 deaths reported on Tuesday.

Only about 10% of the population received a booster injection, compared to more than 50% in South Korea and Singapore, prompting Kishida to announce a daily goal of one million third shots per day.

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