In the face of harsh criticism as the only Group of Seven member nation still banning legal long-term and permanent residents from returning home, Japan has softened its stance on humanitarian grounds and says it will allow foreign residents to re-enter the country regardless of their visa status.

The entry restriction, which covers 111 countries, including the United States and most countries in Asia and Europe, was introduced as a measure against the novel coronavirus. It has left several hundred non-Japanese residents stranded abroad and prevented others from temporarily leaving the country as they risk being denied re-entry.

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