TOKYO – Japan may lift requirements for pre-departure COVID-19 tests for travelers entering the country, the Nikkei newspaper has reported.
Japan has some of the strictest pandemic border measures among major economies, requiring travelers to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The government may soon waive the tests for vaccinated passengers, with the change taking effect in a few weeks, Nikkei reported late Monday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on Tuesday on the timing of any border easing, saying it would depend on COVID conditions in Japan and overseas.
“Along with taking every measure to prevent contagion, we’ll also promote economic activity – and with border control measures, we’ll relax them in stages while keeping these two things in balance,” Mr. Matsuno told reporters.
Representatives from Japan‘s foreign and health ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is recuperating from COVID at his home after testing positive on Sunday, said in May that he wanted to bring Japan‘s border measures more in line with those of other Group of Seven nations. Read full story
Japan in June opened up to tourists for the first time in two years, though visitors must get visas and stick to guided, package tours. Read full story
Domestic and foreign business groups have urged a greater relaxation of Japan‘s border controls, saying the measures risk causing the nation to fall behind economically.
The European Business Council in Japan said that it welcomed the lifting of COVID test requirements and discussions on lifting caps on inbound travelers, and that the easing would help make Japan a more attractive market.
“We would like to reiterate that the need for business people to have a visa before departing for Japan is still an obstacle,” EBC president Michael Mroczek said. “This in particular for businesses that have no presence in Japan.” – Reuters