Japan is considering scrapping pre-departure COVID-19 tests for travellers to the country, according to local media.
Japan is one of the last remaining countries using border restrictions to control the virus, with arrivals required to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure.
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Tokyo, however, may remove the test requirement for vaccinated passengers within the next few weeks, the Nikkei newspaper reported late on Monday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Tuesday declined to comment on the timing of any border easing, except to say it would depend on COVID-19 numbers in Japan and overseas.
“Along with taking every measure to prevent contagion, we’ll also promote economic activity — and with border control measures, we’ll relax them in stages while keeping these two things in balance,” Matsuno told reporters.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has cancelled a number of overseas trips after testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, said in May that he wanted to bring Japan’s border measures more in line with other major economies.
Japan in June welcomed the first tourists in two years, subject to strict conditions that include requiring visitors to obtain a visa and stick to guided, package tours.
Despite Japan’s border controls, COVID-19 cases in the country have soared to record highs in recent weeks, with more than 250,000 daily cases.
Business groups have called for a greater easing of border restrictions, warning Japan could be left behind economically otherwise.