Although Japanese media reported that Japan vowed to suspend entry of foreign nationals over the new virus strain, the Global Times found the country has not shut the door to all foreigners, as some, including Chinese businesspeople, are still permitted to enter the country.
Nikkei Asia reported on Saturday that the Japanese government, beginning Monday until late January, will ban entry from all countries to prevent the spread of the more contagious strain of the coronavirus first found in the UK.
Japan, which had previously introduced entry restrictions from the UK, is now extending the restrictions worldwide.
However, the Global Times found on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan that people from 16 countries and regions which have basically brought the epidemic under control, including China, South Korea and Singapore, are allowed to enter Japan for business activities.
Business staff do not need to be quarantined for short stays, while those staying long term in Japan need to be quarantined in hotels or their homes for two weeks. This clause under the bilateral "business fast track" policy has not changed and is not affected by the new entry ban, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Those who are eligible to study in Japan will still be allowed to enter the country and will be quarantined for two weeks, except those who have stayed in the UK and South Africa within the last 14 days, said the ministry.
Japan will also allow diplomats and other special personnel to enter the country, the Asahi Shimbun reported Saturday.
Japanese people stranded abroad are also allowed to return home. If the new strain of the coronavirus is found in their place of departure, they are required to provide a negative nucleic acid test certificate obtained within 72 hours before departure, and must be tested again when entering Japan, according to the ministry.
For foreigners from most other countries and regions, Japan will suspend new entries, including short-term business trips and those for other purposes.
As of Saturday, seven people who had arrived in the country from the UK were found to be infected with a new variant of the coronavirus, the Japan Times reported Sunday.
Analysts said the new measures are aimed at reducing the number of cases as quickly as possible. But as a large number of eligible foreigners still can enter Japan under the new policy, whether the policy will have an effect on the country's epidemic prevention is uncertain, they said.
"This move demonstrates the Japanese government's determination to fight the pandemic amid a decline in the approval rate for the current administration," Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. "For Japan at the moment, it is only possible to revive the economy when the epidemic is under control."
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has faced the double challenge of fighting against the epidemic and revitalizing the economy since taking office, and the new policy reflects these goals, Da noted.
Exempting China from the entry ban list shows the Japanese government recognizes China's epidemic control. China also has the necessary prerequisites, generally stable epidemic control and normal business activities, to maintain the "fast track" for business personnel exchanges with Japan amid the pandemic, he said.
China is unlikely to follow in the steps of Japan to ban the entry of foreign nationals, but the country is also enhancing measures to do things right, Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Global Times, noting that besides epidemic control, imports and exports are also in China's consideration.