Japan extends ban on new foreign arrivals

NHK -- Jan 11
The Japanese government has decided to extend the border restrictions that have resulted in a virtual ban on new foreign entrants.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio unveiled a new set of anti-coronavirus measures on Tuesday. The action comes amid a recent surge in the number of cases.

Kishida said the border control measure that went into effect in late November will stay in place until the end of February. He indicated that humanitarian issues and national interests will be taken into account in some cases.

The central government and local governments will provide more information on the country's medical systems, such as the occupancy rates at hospitals.

Quasi-emergency restrictions are in place in Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures. Those prefectures will provide information about their respective healthcare systems as soon as possible. Information about the other prefectures will follow.

The government also wants to speed up the pace at which third doses of the coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out.

Prefectural governments will be asked to accelerate the rollout for elderly citizens. They will be asked to set up large-scale venues, secure additional sites and utilize vaccine stockpiles stored across the country.

The government plans to make boosters available to the general public earlier than planned by using the Moderna vaccine. Additional doses of the vaccine have been secured. Third doses for the general public will be available starting in March.

Officials say the Self-Defense Forces will set up large-scale venues to help local municipalities with the rollout.

Children aged 12 or older will be urged to get vaccinated, as many young people have become infected with the Omicron variant. The government also plans to complete the necessary procedures to enable children below the age of 12 to get vaccinated.

Online classes will be prepared just in case schools have to be closed. The government plans to ask entities offering entrance exams to be flexible and allow students to take makeup tests, if necessary. Schools will also be asked to admit students after the academic year begins in April.

Kishida told reporters that the important thing is to safeguard people's lives. He indicated that the country is battling against an unknown virus. He called on people to be fully prepared. But he said people should not be overly afraid.

政府はオミクロン株対策で外国人の新規入国を原則禁止している水際対策について2月末まで継続する方針を固めました。明日、岸田総理が表明する見通しです。 - TBS NEWS