Japan will raise its daily cap on overseas arrivals to around 10,000 from April 10, up from the current 7,000, the top government spokesman said Friday, as the country gradually relaxes its coronavirus border controls.
The latest move reflects the growing need for entry among returning Japanese nationals and foreign visitors, including students who wish to stay in Japan. But it still does not apply to foreign tourists.
"Japan plans to increase international movements of people in stages by taking into account the infection situation at home and abroad and border control measures that other major nations have taken," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference.
Japan effectively imposed an entry ban on nonresident foreign nationals in late November to limit the inflow of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, drawing criticism from students, academics and business circles that the measure was too strict.
In recent weeks, the country has been relaxing what Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the "most stringent" border controls among the Group of Seven nations. The daily entry limit was raised by 2,000 to the current 7,000 in mid-March, ahead of the start of the new Japanese school and business year in April.
The restrictions have prevented foreign students from traveling to Japan, with around 150,000 said to be waiting as of March 1. So far, over 10,000 of them have arrived in Japan, Matsuno said.
The government has prioritized foreign students by allocating empty seats on weekday flights to facilitate their entry into Japan.
Also Friday, Japan eased its travel warning for 106 nations including Britain, France and Germany, India and the United States, no longer advising Japanese nationals against traveling to those areas.
The Foreign Ministry lowered its travel advisories from the second-highest Level 3 on its four-point scale to Level 2, under which Japanese citizens are asked to refrain from all nonessential overseas travel.