Japan to ease border controls Monday as coronavirus slows

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FILE - A man wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks by a flight information board at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. Japan announced Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, it will ease border control beginning Monday for all fully-vaccinated entrants but tourists, responding to requests from business community and following rapid decline of the infections at home. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan announced it will ease border controls beginning Monday for fully vaccinated travelers excluding tourists, responding to requests from the business community following a rapid decline in infections.

Everyone entering Japan must be fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines that are recognized by the Japanese authorities.

Those eligible include travelers on short-term business visits of less than three months, as well as longer term visitors including foreign students and workers on so-called technical internship programs, with a 14-day quarantine requirement.

Schools and companies sponsoring them are required to submit documents detailing their activities and how they will be monitored.

The 10-day self-isolation for Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with reentry permits will be shortened to three days.

Japan shut its borders to virtually all foreign visitors in January, except for those with special permits and for humanitarian purposes.

Daily cases have sharply fallen since September, in a trend generally attributed to vaccinations and extensive mask-wearing.

About 73% of the population have been fully vaccinated. Tokyo on Friday reported 25 cases, below 30 for the ninth straight day. Nationwide, Japan had 158 confirmed cases Thursday for an accumulated total of 1.72 million, with about 18,300 deaths.

The easing of border controls is part of Japan’s move to gradually resume social and economic activity. The government is experimenting with package tours, at restaurants and sports events before further resumption of daily activities.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said Japan is to consider a possibility of allowing foreign tour groups by the end of the year after studying ways to control and monitor their activities.

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