Japan to ease travel restrictions for foreigners

Japan is to partially ease coronavirus travel restrictions on new entry of foreign nationals starting on Monday. New arrivals will be allowed for the first time in 10 months, except for sightseeing purposes.

The measure applies to short-term stays of up to three months for business and working purposes, as well as long-term stays by foreign students, foreign technical trainees and others.

Companies and organizations such as schools that sponsor foreigners in Japan need to pass screenings by the relevant ministry or agency in advance to secure their entry.

The receiving organizations are also responsible for supervising the entrants, including providing accommodations where they can self-quarantine for up to 14 days.

The government will continue to limit the number of international arrivals to 3,500 a day, including Japanese. Authorities say it may take some time to be able to enter the country due to the limit.

A Japanese language school in the heart of Tokyo has begun notifying the students that they will be able to come to Japan. It had about 600 students before the pandemic. But the number has fallen by more than half.

Some of them are taking classes online from their home countries. One student said he has been waiting a year for the news.

The head of the school is worried about the possibility of infections rising again while foreign students are waiting to enter.

Immigration authorities say about 370,000 people with permission to stay in Japan have been left unable to enter.