Japan mulls easing entry limits on newly acquired import athletes

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Yomiuri Giants practice in Miyazaki earlier this month.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met Wednesday with Nippon Professional Baseball Organization Commissioner Atsushi Saito and J.League Chairman Mitsuru Murai at the prime minister’s office to discuss lifting the suspension on new import players entering the country. Kishida reportedly expressed his intention to consider easing those restrictions.

The two leagues’ top executives requested that recently signed foreign players and their families be allowed to enter Japan as quickly as possible.

According to Saito, the prime minister said during the meeting: “We will take appropriate measures in an positive manner.”

And in fact, the prime minister has already planned a Thursday press conference to announce the easing of border control measures.

The government has basically suspended new entries for foreign nationals since the end of November last year because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Pro baseball teams opened spring training camps without their newly acquired foreign players, and there are fears that the J.League will not be able to kick off its season on Friday.

The number of import players who have not been allowed to enter Japan under the government’s border control measures is 38 in NPB and 44 in the J.League — 35 players and nine staff members, including coaches.