Japanese government plans to ease border controls, reports TBS
(Bloomberg) – Japan will unveil relaxed border control measures as early as next week, broadcaster TBS reported, indicating it is ready to roll back some of the developed world’s toughest restrictions after failing to contain the spread of the omicron variant.
Friday’s report did not say how or when the measures would be relaxed. A handful of travel-related stocks from Japan Airlines Co. to West Japan Railway Co. traded higher in the afternoon session in Tokyo after news from TBS.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida introduced the controls, which effectively bar all new foreigners from entering the country, when the omicron variant was discovered late last year and the move was initially applauded by voters. The controls are to remain in place at least until the end of this month, with their prolonged implementation irritating executives. This has included the head of Japan’s biggest business lobby, who has urged the government to reconsider restrictions it sees as unrealistic.
Asked by a lawmaker on Friday about easing the measures, Daishiro Yamagiwa, minister in charge of the coronavirus response, said the government would be “flexible” and ultimately wanted to open the country to “essential” foreigners. The prevalence of Covid makes the rules less relevant, he said.
“We took some of the toughest border action in the G-7 when a lot about omicron was unknown,” Yamagiwa said. “But if we’re not going to see a change in the number of cases in Japan and overseas, the border controls themselves become more useless, so we have to keep that in mind.”
A study released this week by government-affiliated bodies, including the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said Japan would need 6.74 million foreign workers in 2040, four times what it has today. , in order to achieve the growth objectives set by the government. The world’s third-largest economy has long struggled with labor shortages with a falling birth rate, a problem that will only get worse as its population ages.
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