Tokyo (AP) —Japan withdraws ban on new international flight reservations to defend against new variants of coronavirus just one day after policy announcements, criticized for overreaction It states that it did.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Transport requested international airlines to suspend new bookings for flights arriving in Japan until the end of December as an emergency precaution to prevent new Omicron variants.
The ministry said Thursday that it withdrew the request after being criticized for being too strict and equivalent to abandoning its own people.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the rapid reversal of policy took into account the travel needs of the Japanese. Fumio Kishida is pushing for strong precautions after his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, has virtually lost his leadership position in criticism that anti-virus measures are limited and too late.
“I instructed the Ministry of Transport to pay close attention to the need for Japanese to return home,” Kishida said.
According to officials, the request aimed to reduce Japan’s daily arrivals from abroad from the previous 5,000 to 3,500 in order to strengthen border control as new varieties spread around the world.
“The request made as an emergency precaution has caused confusion,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. He said the Ministry of Transport withdrew the request for a unified suspension of new bookings.
However, the limit remains, as the daily arrival limit of 3,500 is maintained. According to Mr. Hitoshi Inoue of the Ministry of Transport, new reservations are possible if there is room below this limit.
Japan has already banned foreigners from all over the world, except for Japanese spouses, permanent residents, and those with special consideration.
Japan reported two cases of Omicron mutants first reported in South Africa last week.
Japan has relaxed social and economic regulations since September after a rapid slowdown in infections.
For many who are planning a trip during the holiday season, the request for a reservation ban was disappointing. This includes Japanese living abroad who want to return home during the New Year.
Many social media criticized this measure as being too strict, and one user compared it to Japan’s feudal national isolation policy.
As some health officials suspect, there are many new variants, such as whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can block the vaccine. Remains unknown.