No immediate plans for Japan to reopen to tourists, prime minister says

Japan has no immediate plans to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday as the country braces for a possible resurgence of the coronavirus.

“No specific schedule has been decided,” Kishida said at a news conference, adding the government will make a decision after examining the COVID-19 infection situation and border control steps taken by other nations.

Japan, which has gradually relaxed its strict border controls, will allow up to 10,000 entrants a day, including business travelers, students, and returning Japanese nationals and foreign residents, starting Sunday.

But Kishida has warned that Japan is seeing signs of a coronavirus resurgence, calling for the public to cooperate in stemming the spread by taking thorough prevention measures, getting tested for the virus and receiving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as early as possible.

On Friday, around 52,000 new infections were reported across Japan, increasing from a week earlier for the 14th consecutive day.

Tokyo reported 8,112 new cases, with those in their 20s accounting for 22% of the total, the highest rate among all age groups.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike stressed at a news conference the importance of younger people getting vaccinated to “break the chain of infection.”

Only 25.6% of those in their 20s in Tokyo had received their third COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as of Tuesday, compared with 44.4% for the capital’s population on a whole, according to the metropolitan government.

To encourage vaccinations, the metropolitan government has begun offering coupons and prizes to fully vaccinated individuals, including giving a higher chance for such individuals to win in a lottery to see twin giant pandas born last year at the Ueno Zoological Gardens.

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