Japan Govt drops ban on inbound flight bookings after causing public criticism

TOKYO: The Japanese government abandoned its request on Thursday for airlines to halt accepting reservations for inbound overseas flights this month, according to local media.

Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, acknowledged that the transportation ministry's announcement the day before had confused the public, but instructed authorities to "adequately take into account" people's wishes to return home. According to reports, the blanket halt prevented Japanese nationals and international residents from returning until next year unless they had already made bookings.

Hirokazu Matsuno, the Japanese government's top spokesperson, told a press conference that the ministry has withdrawn the request and permitted All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co. to accept new reservations for flights to Japan.

The administration also reduced the daily ceiling for international arrivals from 5,000 to 3,500 on Wednesday. Although research into the transmissibility and nature of the Omicron variant is still in its early stages, the new variant's unprecedented number of mutations suggests that it may spread further and faster than the extremely contagious Delta variant.

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