Japan's government is arranging to double the cap on arrivals from overseas to 20,000 people per day in June, government sources said Wednesday.
The relaxation is expected to go ahead following an examination of airport quarantine infrastructure and the state of domestic infections after Japan's Golden Week holidays that ended last Sunday.
Additionally, the government is considering accepting tourists by trialing small-scale tours as soon as this month, with an eye to expanding reception of foreign leisure travelers in stages.
Japan, which adopted the strictest pandemic border measures among Group of Seven nations, has been under pressure to reopen.
In late April, private-sector members of a government panel on economic and fiscal policy called for relaxing the daily foreign arrival cap and easing additional immigration procedures.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during a London visit last week that Japan would review its COVID-19 measures "in stages" after consulting with public health experts, and bring them in line with other G-7 nations.
The government closed Japan to all nonresident foreign visitors on Nov. 30, 2021, in response to the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Since March 1, controls have been relaxed on entries for businesspeople, foreign students, technical intern trainees and others entering for non-tourism purposes.
The cap on foreign arrivals per day was raised from 3,500 since November to 5,000 on March 1, 7,000 on March 14 and to the current 10,000 on April 10.
In 2021, just 245,900 foreign visitors came to Japan -- the lowest figure since comparable data became available in 1964.