Japan business community seeks further relaxation of border controls

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s business community issued a joint statement on Friday seeking further relaxation of border controls, as the country begins a gradual easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The statement by domestic business lobby Keidanren and foreign chambers of commerce urged further easing to “facilitate an environment where people, goods, money and digital technologies can move freely”.

Japan began a phased reopening to tourists on Friday after a more than two-year ban. But the visitors must be part of packaged tours accompanied by guides at all times to ensure compliance with infection controls.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged last month to bring Japan’s border measures, among the strictest in the world during the pandemic, more in line with other wealthy democracies.

The joint statement, signed on to by United States and European business lobbies, urged Japan to restore visa waiver eligibility for its Groups of Seven trading partners.

The group also advocated for a rapid return to individual tourist travel, relaxation of COVID testing at airports, and a lifting of the daily cap of international arrivals.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates)