• POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Daily entries to Japan to be raised to 50,000 people from Sept. 7

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida talks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday that the government will relax its border control measures against the novel coronavirus, raising the daily limit on entries to 50,000 people from Sept. 7.

During a morning press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, Kishida also apologized for the Liberal Democratic Party’s relationship with the religious group widely known as the Unification Church.

“As president of the LDP, I frankly express my apology,” he said.

Kishida further announced his intention to attend the Diet’s adjournment deliberation session to answer questions regarding the planned state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The prime minister said if people have a certificate proving they have received a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, they will no longer need, starting Sept. 7, to present a certificate showing a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before departure. Such a certificate is currently required for people entering or returning to Japan.

In addition to raising the daily upper limit on entries to Japan, which is currently 20,000 people, Kishida also said the government would begin accepting package tours without a guide from all countries.

He said the government would “further move up” — possibly to September — the start of new vaccinations against the omicron variant, inoculations that had been scheduled to begin in October. Kishida was recently infected with the novel coronavirus, but said he “only suffered mild symptoms because I had received a fourth dose of vaccine.”

Kishdia apologized for the fact that certain Cabinet ministers and LDP lawmakers were found to have ties with the Unification Church — now officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — and related organizations.

“I sincerely reflect on the past and will make it known to LDP lawmakers that it is our party’s basic policy to break ties with that group, casting away vested interests,” Kishida said. He added that he had instructed the LDP’s top cadre to implement this policy.

In response to polls showing public opinion is split over the prospect of a state funeral for Abe on Sept. 27, Kishida indicated that he will attend the Diet’s adjournment deliberation session to give his own explanation.

“I have a responsibility to take opinions and criticisms seriously and answer them frankly,” he said. “I’ll do my best to give a detailed explanation.”

PM resumes face-to-face duties

On Wednesday, Kishida began conducting his official duties face-to-face again, following a period of recuperation from his infection with the novel coronavirus.

After attending an LDP executive board meeting at party headquarters, he told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office: “I’ll devote all my thoughts and energy to my work. I’ve fully recovered physically.”

Kishida instructed the LDP at the meeting to explain to the public about issues surrounding the relationship between the Unification Church and the LDP.

The prime minister took a summer vacation from Aug. 15 and was found to be infected with the novel coronavirus on Aug. 21, the day before he was to return to his official duties. He recuperated at the prime minister’s official residence until Tuesday, participating in Cabinet meetings and other official duties online.