Japan has decided to allow fully vaccinated foreigners to enter the country. But borders will remain closed to tourists. Strict rules barring entry were put in place ten months ago as part of efforts to Japan's anti-coronavirus measures.
In a news conference on Friday Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara Seiji said, " This time, the measures do not cover tourists. But the government is considering a plan to allow tourists to enter the country in stages. We will examine the effectiveness of monitoring new arrivals and the coronavirus situation, at around the end of the year."
Japan's entry restrictions had covered most foreigners, except those with what it called "special exceptional circumstances." That included Olympic athletes.
For months, industry groups and students have been campaigning to see rules eased, especially as daily infection numbers dropped.
Canadian Masters student Jeremy Tsai enrolled in a Japanese university in the spring, but couldn't enter the country. He said," Everyone on either Facebook or Twitter is very emotional right now. Some people like me have been waiting for half a year. "
Before any visas are issued, sponsors must submit an application. The organizations have to include a plan of how they'll prevent infections. The process opens on Monday.
Once students and technical trainees arrive, they need to self-quarantine for 14 days. For business travelers, that's reduced to three days.
Right now, 3,500 international arrivals are allowed per day. But the government appears set to raise the cap later this month, to 5,000.
Daily COVID-19 cases have sharply declined in recent weeks. Japan reported 225 new infections on Friday.