Western business lobbies have issued a collective protest over Japan's travel controls on foreign nationals, aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus, saying the policy is out of step with measures in other major economies and will harm investment.

Many countries have imposed travel curbs to battle the pandemic but Japan's are among the most strict, effectively banning entry of tourists and visa holders from more than 140 countries.

"This policy is contrary to the treatment Japan receives from other G7 and other leading countries who treat long-term foreign residents equally to citizens on health matters," the groups said in a statement released Tuesday.

The joint letter was signed by business lobbies from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe. The U.S. and European groups had issued previous complaints about the policy.

Japan allows its citizens to return to the country if they take a test for the novel coronavirus at the port of entry and observe a period of self-quarantine. Foreign nationals living in Japan face much higher hurdles for re-entry.

These measures "can only discourage foreign nationals, and the companies they work for, from investing in Japan," the business groups said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government announced last month it would start "phased measures" to restore travel depending on infection conditions, starting with 12 Asian countries.

Restrictions to contain the spread of the virus have devastated Japan's economy, which posted its biggest contraction on record in the second quarter.