The government is considering reducing the quarantine time for vaccinated foreign nationals that arrive in Japan for short business trips, study abroad and technical training to three days from the current 10, the Nikkei daily reported late Monday.
The shorter quarantine requirement will also apply to Japanese citizens returning from business trips abroad. The major policy shift is expected to boost economic exchanges with other countries.
New entries to Japan have been banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing, for instance, foreign exchange students and technical interns to remain in limbo in their home countries, not knowing when they will be able to come to Japan.
Quarantine days will be shortened provided that travelers’ employers ensure that they will take necessary COVID-19 measures, the Nikkei reported. If new variants flare up in other countries, the government will strengthen entry restrictions, the report added.
Under the new measure, which could begin as early as Monday, travelers will need to quarantine for three days upon arrival and will be able to go out from the fourth day onward if they test negative for the virus, NHK reported Tuesday.
The government’s top spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report on Tuesday, saying that Japan will continue to discuss whether to ease restrictions based on the spread of coronavirus infections at home and abroad and progress in the vaccination rollout.
“The key in crisis management is about assuming the worst,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said. “If we see the situation worsening, we will need to act quickly on entry restrictions.”
With daily new cases remaining low over the past month or so — the nationwide caseload was 86 on Monday — the government is apparently considering ways to open up the country again.
As of Oct. 1, about 370,000 foreign nationals had reportedly not been able to come to Japan, about 70% of which are foreign students and technical interns.
The move follows the recent easing of entry restrictions by a number of other countries. Fully vaccinated travelers to the United Kingdom, France and Italy are not required to quarantine upon entry, and the United States will take similar measures from Monday.
Japanese businesses have been lobbying the government to ease its entry restrictions.
The Japan Business Federation, better known as Keidanren, submitted a proposal in September urging the government to exempt vaccinated travelers from the mandatory quarantine.
At present, vaccinated travelers need to quarantine for 10 days, while unvaccinated arrivals are required to do so for 14 days either at a designated facility or an accommodation of their choice depending on where they are arriving from.