Japan Extends Entry Ban for Foreign Visitors Amid Rising Omicron Cases

Japan Extends Entry Ban for Foreign Visitors Amid Rising Omicron Cases
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wearing a face mask delivers his policy speech at the start of an extraordinary session of the lower house of the parliament, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec. 6, 2021. (Issei Kato/Reuters)
Aldgra Fredly

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday said that the government will further extend its entry ban on foreign visitors until the end of February amid a surge in the country's Omicron cases.

Japan has been suspending new arrivals of foreign visitors since Nov. 30, 2021, while returning local citizens and foreign residents are required to undergo quarantine in designated facilities.
"The infection situations regarding Omicron are clearly different at home from abroad, so the framework [of the current border controls] will be maintained until the end of February," Kishida told reporters, Kyodo News reported.
The government has also set a daily limit for the number of people arriving in Japan at 3,500 to curb the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as coronavirus.

However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stated that foreign residents returning from 11 high-risk countries where Omicron has been detected will now be allowed to re-enter Japan under “humanitarian considerations.”

Japan has detected a total of 1,191 Omicron cases as of Jan. 4, including 479 cases considered community transmissions. The country has seen a spike in the daily number of CCP virus cases, with 8,249 new cases reported on Jan. 9.

The government has placed three prefectures, including Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima, under a quasi-state of emergency until the end of January due to the increase in infections there.

Under the quasi-state of emergency, governors are allowed to impose stringent measures in the specified prefectures, such as shortening business hours and restricting the serving of alcohol in the prefectures.

Certified dining establishments are not subject to such restrictions during the quasi-emergency, but they will be asked to halt dine-in alcohol service amid the government’s effort to curb the spread of the CCP virus.

Gov. Denny Tamaki said that Okinawa prefecture, host to the vast majority of U.S. military bases in Japan, has entered the sixth wave of the CCP virus. Okinawa had the most CCP virus cases among the other prefectures, with 1,533 new cases reported on Jan. 9.

Tamaki attributed the increase in CCP virus cases to the Omicron variant detected in multiple U.S. military bases in Japan and accused the U.S. forces of “insufficient” management.

The U.S. Forces Japan announced on Jan. 9 that the movement of U.S. military personnel outside base facilities will be restricted to essential activities for two weeks starting from Jan. 10 onwards.

It stated that all forces personnel are required to wear masks both on and off base, as well as when outside of their residences. They must also undergo coronavirus tests before and after arrival in Japan.

“[The U.S. Forces Japan], in consultation with [the government of Japan], will continuously monitor the COVID-19 situation and make adjustments to these measures as necessary,” it added.

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