According to Fuji News Network, Japan may open its borders to small groups of fully vaccinated foreign tourists as early as this month. The Japanese government will make a decision on lifting the ban on tourist visas in two weeks. By that time, there will be more information regarding COVID-19 infection rates during the country’s recent Golden Week holidays, when many travel.

The upper limit on the number of entrants to the country will also change. Although the government has not finalized details, it is looking at increasing the daily entry maximum from 10,000 to 20,000. Currently, with some exceptions, individuals entering Japan who have received three doses of a vaccine are not required to self-quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19. All entrants are currently inspected upon arrival.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida revealed in his speech in London on Thursday that Japan will ease foreign travel COVID-19 restrictions further in June. He stated, “We have now eased border control measures significantly, with the next easing taking place in June, when Japan will introduce a smoother entry process similar to that of other G7 members.”

Japan is working on reopening its economy.

A panel of experts are beginning discussions to review its response to COVID-19, with a report coming as early as June. Kishida will use the review to improve government action against the virus. The panel expects to discuss restrictions on movement. Cooperation between authorities and hospitals will be also on the panel’s agenda, as health care systems have been strained due to the high number of cases and Japan’s small hospitals.

Japan began easing its COVID-19 entry restrictions for foreign students and business travelers (if they have sponsors) on March 1. In addition, it increased the number of people (Japanese and foreign nationals combined) who are allowed to enter from 3,500 to 5,000 daily, and shortened the COVID-19 quarantine period from seven to three days. It then raised the daily cap to 7,000 on March 14, and again to 10,000 on April 10. Japan is still not allowing foreign tourists to enter until further notice.

The border control measure that started in late November was in response to the global spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The Japanese government had also extended the border restrictions to February, setting a ban on new foreign entrants, in order to curb the spread.

The Japanese government ended the most recent COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency in 18 prefectures on March 21.

Japan last ended a full state of emergency in 19 prefectures last September. That state of emergency started in July (although Okinawa had then already been under a state of emergency for four months).

Sources: Nikkei Asia, Japan Times