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  02 Dec 2021, 12:25

Japan withdraws ban on inbound flight bookings after causing public confusion

TOKYO, Dec. 2, 2021 (BSS/Xinhua) -The Japanese government on Thursday
withdrew its request for airlines to completely stop taking reservations for
inbound international flights this month, local media reported Thursday.

   Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida admitted that the transportation
ministry's announcement the previous day had caused confusion to the public,
while instructing officials to "adequately take into account" people's wishes
to travel home.

   The blanket halt made Japanese citizens and foreign residents not able to
return until next year unless they already had reservations. Chief Cabinet
Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the top spokesman for the Japanese government,
told a press conference that the ministry has withdrawn the request and
allowed All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co. to take new
reservations for Japan-bound flights.

   The government on Wednesday also lowered the daily cap for arrivals from
overseas to 3,500 from 5,000. Although research into the transmissibility and
nature of the Omicron variant is still in the early stages, the unprecedented
number of mutations in the new variant suggests the possibility that it could
spread further and faster even than the highly contagious Delta variant.

   Kishida has swiftly taken measures to prevent the Omicron variant from
entering Japan, including banning new entries of foreigners and tightening
quarantine rules on Japanese citizens and foreign residents returning from
countries feared to have outbreaks.

   However, the measures have also been questioned for being discriminatory
by Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies
Program.

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