Fumio Kishida, Japan’s Prime Minister, said Thursday that foreign students and business travelers needing entry into the country other than for tourism will be permitted starting March as part of the exit strategy for the sixth wave.
In response to demands from universities, business leaders, and even members of the ruling party, the government has eased entry restrictions due to concerns over its economic and reputational costs.
In addition, the Prime Minister said that all arrivals will be quarantined for three days. In some countries where outbreaks have been contained, people arriving from those countries may not need to be quarantined at all. There will be an increase from 3,500 to 5,000 daily visitors allowed into Japan, which will remain the toughest entry restrictions among the Group of Seven developed countries.
He even stated that this is the first step and the country will continue considering measures to ease border restrictions.
As per the Immigration Services Agency, there are more than 147,000 students who are waiting to enter the country despite getting visas. The head of the LDP’s education policy committee, Tomohiro Yamamoto stated that students who became unable to enter Japan are choosing other countries which are damaging the country’s international reputation.
Timeline of Japan’s COVID-19 border restrictions
Jan. 31, 2020: Japan bans the entry of foreign nationals arriving from China’s Hubei Province, the first entry ban imposed due to the coronavirus. The ban was gradually expanded to 24 countries through the end of March.
April 1, 2020: Less than a month after the spread of COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Japan bans entry into the country by foreign nationals, including foreign residents of Japan, from 49 countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea, bringing the total number up to 73 nations.
May 14: Japan expands its entry ban to cover a total of 100 countries and regions.
Aug. 28: The entry ban is expanded further to cover 159 countries and regions, including Bhutan.
Sept. 1: Japan lifts ban on re-entry of foreign residents.
Oct. 1: Japan lifts its ban on entry by foreign nationals planning to relocate to the country.
Dec. 28: Japan again implements a ban on the entry of nonresident foreign nationals.
Jan. 14, 2021: Japan suspends a business-track travel program with some countries and mandates that all people arriving in the country quarantine at home for 14 days.
Nov. 8: Japan opens its borders to foreign students, interns and other business travelers.
Nov. 30: Japan bans the entry of nonresident foreign nationals after the discovery of the highly contagious omicron variant.
From March 2022: Japan to allow foreign nationals arriving for purposes other than tourism to enter the country.