Latest News Update: Japan Reimposes Ban on Foreign Visitors Over Omicron Variant Concerns

Japan will ban foreign nationals from entering the country, reflecting a three-week easing of its rules, as Tokyo responds to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday announced the decision, which will go into effect at midnight on Tuesday.

“We are dealing with the alternative Omicron with a strong sense of crisis,” Kishida told reporters. “It appears to be spreading around the world, so we continue to look at further strengthening our border control measures.”

The new ban includes students, interns, foreign workers moving to Japan, and business travelers on short trips. As part of the relaxation announced three weeks ago, vaccinated business travelers can visit Japan with a quarantine of up to three days.

Kishida said Japanese nationals returning from South Africa, neighboring countries and other countries with Omicron cases will have to be quarantined in government-controlled facilities.

Traders in Tokyo said that despite the Omicron news over the weekend, the Tokyo morning session was relatively positive, with the opening pullback eased before the lunch break as New York futures continued to trade positively.

However, headlines regarding Japan’s new policies on foreign arrivals weighed heavily on sentiment, sending previously-trading stocks lower on expectations of a gradual return to the tourism market.

Shares in Japanese air terminals and many large railway companies fell sharply.

“Japan has just begun to open up to short-term visitors and this feels like a step backwards,” said Takeo Kami, Head of Enforcement Services at CLSA. “There is a lot of uncertainty and the Tokyo market will always trade conservatively at a time like this.”

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