Speculation is rife that Tokyo will soon ease a much-criticized ban on allowing re-entry of long-term foreign workers in Japan who are stranded abroad under the nation’s strict entry ban imposed following the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Japan’s entry ban, which was first imposed on April 3 and now has 129 countries and regions on the list, has been blasted by Japan’s expatriate community for rendering at least hundreds of its legal foreign residents unable to return to their homes in Japan.

The ban has also affected all foreign residents who want to or were planning to leave Japan after the imposition regardless of their visa statuses.