TOKYO -- Japan looks to set a daily limit on the number of people entering the country even as it allows new exceptions to an arrival ban for international travelers, including those involved in the Olympics, Nikkei has learned.
A cap of around 2,000 people has been proposed, taking effect sometime after the Tokyo area's coronavirus state of emergency ends, people familiar with the matter say. The number includes Japanese nationals returning to the country.
This review of Japan's entry rules comes after the country halted nearly all new arrivals in late December in an attempt to stop a surge in coronavirus infections. The state of emergency in the capital area has been extended to March 21.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato met Monday with Tokyo Olympics chief Seiko Hashimoto. "We confirmed that we are going to move ahead steadily with preparations for the games," Kato said afterward.
The government plans to expand its exceptions to the entry ban to include athletes and people involved in organizing the Olympic and Paralympic games, scheduled to begin in July. Test events are to start in April.
The cap on entries would be managed by adjusting the number of passengers on Japan-bound flights.
Japan now makes exceptions in special circumstances, such as reuniting with separated family members and receiving medical treatment. Foreigners who hold permanent residency status also are allowed to reenter the country.
A ban on new entries by business travelers will continue. So-called business track arrangements for short-stay travel with four countries -- Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and China -- are likely to remain suspended for the foreseeable future because coronavirus variants have been detected in all of these nations.
An average of 1,241 people entered Japan daily during February, a document presented at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's foreign affairs team shows. This average consisted of 494 foreigners and 747 Japanese. The figure was 3,235 in November, 4,108 in December and 2,611 in January.
At the LDP meeting, concerns were voiced over the risk that easing entry restrictions would spark a rise in infections from coronavirus variants.
The government also plans stronger quarantine measures, requiring all people entering the country to undergo a coronavirus test within 72 hours before departure and submit a certificate proving a negative result. People who lack such a certificate will be barred from boarding the aircraft.
Travelers entering Japan will be required to self-quarantine at home or another designated place for 14 days. The government will mandate that all entrants install a mobile phone app confirming their location. Staff at a government call center will contact travelers daily by video chat.
If the person cannot be contacted for three days or longer, staff will be dispatched from a private-sector security company to confirm their whereabouts.