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Japan keeps foreign visitor ban to protect against COVID variants

Business exemption for Chinese and South Korean travelers remains suspended

Business travel exemptions with China, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam are likely to remain suspended.    © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan will maintain tight controls on the entry of foreign nationals following the extension of a state of emergency covering Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures to curb COVID-19, just weeks before preparations for the Olympics begin in earnest.

The emergency extension comes as authorities have been particularly vigilant in guarding against spikes in coronavirus cases as the countdown to hosting the Tokyo Games this summer begins. Once the declaration is lifted, currently scheduled for March 21, less than a week before the Olympic torch relay is set to begin, the government will welcome visitors first from countries that have not detected new coronavirus variants.

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