Japan Covid Restrictions—A source familiar with the situation said Saturday that Japan is considering lifting the entry ban on nonresident foreigners to avoid spreading the Omicron version of the coronavirus in March.
According to the source, the present border restrictions imposed at the end of November will cease on February 28 as scheduled. The administration is expected to announce the simple procedures next week at the earliest.
On February 12, 2022, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. In this view, you can see the pool. (Kyodo)
Nonresident visitors are currently subject to a seven-day quarantine period upon arrival at the airport. It’s possible that the government could cut this period to just three or five days, as long as a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test result or a third coronavirus vaccine dosage is presented. Some government officials may even abolish the quarantine period.
Sources say the administration is considering lowering the daily cap on the number of new foreigners allowed into the country from the current 3,500. A daily entry limit of 5,000 people was in effect until November.
In his press conference that day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida remarked, “We will take into account accumulated scientific knowledge on the Omicron strain, changes in infection conditions within and outside Japan, and other countries’ border control measures.” Kishida declined to clarify further.
Kishida’s comments follow criticism from academics and business leaders of the prohibition on admission into the country. Some international students have been forced to look for other options, such as South Korea, due to the measure.
As a result of a severe labor shortage, businesses have demanded that the ban be abolished.
Earlier this month, the head of the Japan Business Federation, Masakazu Tokura, expressed his doubts about the ban’s effectiveness because an easily transmitted strain mainly causes domestic infections.
Furthermore, the government considers it unnecessary to enforce the current restrictions because Omicron has already established itself as Japan’s dominant virus strain.
After the Omicron variety spreads domestically, other countries reduce border security measures, believing them to be ineffective.
Vaccination certifications that match European Union standards are now acceptable for entry into the United Kingdom, and France has begun allowing visitors with such credentials to enter the country.
According to the WHO, international traffic restrictions should be relaxed or eliminated because they have failed to slow down the spread of Omicron.
Economic Impact of Japan Covid Restrictions
Even after two years, restrictions on Japanese imports implemented during the coronavirus pandemic’s early phases continue to harm German businesses in a crucial and long-standing market.
Due to Japan’s refusal to ease regulations any time soon, several German companies are reevaluating their approaches in the world’s third-largest economy.
At 91,345 new cases recorded each day, the daily average for 19 infections in Japan has reached its highest level ever.
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, the country has recorded 3,309,394 coronavirus illnesses and 19,341 deaths.
In other parts of Asia, the coronavirus has killed 6,922 people and infected over a million people, according to recent data from South Korea. With only 19,101 cases and 851 deaths, neighboring Taiwan looks to have done pretty well in the fight against the virus.
There have been 11.3 million instances in Germany, with 119,000 people losing their lives.
According to a survey, German companies are afraid of the risks posed by COVID regulations.
Seventy-three percent of German companies polled by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (AHK) believe that a prohibition on new foreign workers entering the nation puts their ongoing projects and business activities in danger.
The study collected responses from 25.2% of the 396 companies participating in the survey. The findings of the AHK’s online survey were revealed on February 3.
Many AHK member companies claim an “urgent need” to hire foreign specialists, while 23% report losing “significant business” due to the Japanese government’s restrictive immigration policies.
Three-fourths of the companies polled indicated that Japan’s severe pandemic regulations, which are among the strongest globally, have prompted them to rethink their activities there.
Some businesses have stated that they intend to reduce or relocate their operations in Japan or the greater Asia-Pacific area.
The chamber’s CEO, Marcus Schuermann, told DW that the findings were alarming.
According to him, “Having experts and specialists coming in from overseas is vital to the development and expansion of organizations; but, as a result of the Japanese government’s policies, these people are just not coming in.”
This is not the first time he has dealt with a shortage of project-specific experts.
According to him, “Japanese customers demand that kind of service, and that is why they choose to deal with German firms, while the German side wants to meet its pledges, but it is just impossible anymore.” ” Because of Japan’s entry prohibition, German companies have lost €100 million in business over the last two years, the AHK said.
Schuermann added that the longer the restriction is in force, the more business will be lost.
He went on to say that Japanese partner corporations can’t afford to delay projects and will instead look for a solution involving domestic firms.
German-Japanese trade was large and increased until the coronavirus outbreak in the first months of 2020.
Before the global health crisis, German exports to Japan were worth €38.6 billion ($42.3 billion), while German direct investment in Japan was worth €15.6 billion annually.
Many German firms export to Japan, and 450 have established a subsidiary there.
In addition, German companies employ 265,000 people in Japan.
According to Schuermann, Japan has long been a significant market for German companies, not because of the country’s rapid economic development but rather because the market has remained stable and the two countries are committed to building long-term connections.
Two years have been virtually lost as a result of the entry restrictions, and some companies are beginning to ask themselves whether Japan is a trusted partner,” he continued.
There is ‘no rational basis for preventing skilled labor from entering the workforce.
According to Japanese health officials on Thursday, coronavirus infections in Japan have crossed 100,000 for the first time, primarily due to Omicron’s rapid spread.
Business leaders understand that Japan is dealing with an unprecedented influx of migrants, but they argue that a blanket ban on all new entrants is ineffective and harmful.
Health authorities in Japan have been on high alert for COVID-19, according to infection control expert Yoko Tsukamoto of the Nursing Health Sciences University of Hokkaido. She says they don’t yet have complete information on the disease’s severity or how it may evolve going forward.
According to an interview with DW, many in Japan believe that shutting down their borders will be the most excellent way to prevent new strains of Ebola from spreading.
Their reasoning is based on the idea that because Japan is so isolated, the travel restrictions are justifiable, she explained. The virus and any novel variants, such as Omicron, were known to health specialists early on.
According to Tsukamoto, keeping Omicron at bay was “wishful thinking,” who noted that the ban did give Japan a few extra weeks to get ready for its arrival.
“Every government is still trying to find the best answers, and no one has gotten it right,” she added of other countries’ attempts to prevent the spread of the virus.