Japan's largest business lobby on Monday called on the government to lift the entry ban on nonresident foreigners aimed at keeping the Omicron variant of the coronavirus at bay and preventing its spread now that domestic infections are mostly being caused by the highly transmissible strain.
Masakazu Tokura, chief of the Japan Business Federation, said at a regular press conference that nearly two months of border restrictions have only hampered domestic companies from making business trips and having smooth negotiations with foreign partners on tie-ups, merges and acquisitions.
"It was a good decision to cast a wide net in the first place. But there is no point keeping the measure in place given Omicron has already become the dominant strain" in Japan, said the head of the business lobby, also known as Keidanren.
The anti-coronavirus entry ban has been in place since Nov. 30, the day when Japan confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant, and the government extended the measure earlier this month until the end of February.
Japan's daily coronavirus cases exceeded 50,000 on Saturday in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant, setting a record number of infections for a fifth straight day.
"We are not doing business only at home," he said, calling the current entry ban a "policy of seclusion."
Tokura, also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., reiterated the government should shorten the current quarantine period of 10 days for people who have been in close contact with someone infected with Omicron to help business continuity for companies.
"Why does Japan impose 10 days when the rest of the world requires only five?" he said.