TOKYO, Jan.11 (Reuters) – Japan will maintain until the end of February at least the border restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday, who announced the start of vaccination of children under 12 years of age.
Tokyo implemented some of the most stringent border measures in the world at the end of 2021, prohibiting entry into Japanese territory by all foreign nationals, including students, permanent residents and foreign relatives of Japanese citizens.
The measures, which in some cases have led to family estrangement, have sparked criticism and calls for the government to ease restrictions.
According to the local press, changes are being considered by the government in exceptional cases.
“Thanks to the strictest border measures among the G7 countries, we have managed to keep the spread of Omicron to a minimum, which has given us time to prepare for local contaminations,” said Fumio Kishida.
“We will maintain the current framework of measures until the end of February for the moment, while taking the necessary measures from a humanitarian point of view and in the national interest,” he added to reporters.
Noting that many uncertainties remained about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Fumio Kishida said it seemed to represent a lesser danger when it comes to severe forms of COVID-19.
Despite this, he announced that Japan would start vaccinating children under the age of 12, as many regions saw a spike in daily coronavirus infections. (Report Yoshifumi Takemoto and Elaine Lies; French version Jean Terzian)