Japan to keep up its border restrictions in place until the end of February
Japan to keep up its border restrictions in place until the end of February

The Japan prime minister Fumio Kishida  stated on Tuesday that Japan will keep its tough entry restrictions in place until the end of February to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, while certain exceptions for humanitarian reasons may be considered.

When the Omicron strain surfaced late last year, Japan implemented some of the tightest border controls in the world, forbidding all new entry by non-Japanese persons, including students and foreign family members of Japanese or permanent residents, except in extraordinary circumstances.

"We've been able to reduce the spread of Omicron to a minimum thanks to the tightest border rules in the G7 nations, giving us time to plan to cope with domestic infection," Kishida told reporters. Most of those who are allowed in - largely Japanese and resident foreigners - must spend up to six days under tight hotel quarantine before returning home. The regulations have spurred demonstrations and a petition drive pushing for change, particularly to avoid family separations, and the government was said to be considering modifying some of the rules in exceptional situations on Tuesday.

While much remains unclear about the Omicron variant, according to Kishida, the probability of serious cases appeared to be reduced. Vaccinations would be administered to children under the age of 12, he stated. Despite the fact that most Japanese people support border controls, Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder and CEO of e-commerce business Rakuten, has urged for them to be relaxed, claiming that the economy will suffer as a result.

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