Speculation is growing that Japan will soon reopen its borders to non-Japanese residents, allowing those who have left the country during the pandemic to return regardless of the purpose of their trip abroad.

Citing government sources, public broadcaster NHK said that starting from September, Japan will grant permission to return to all foreign nationals with valid visas who temporarily left the country but have not yet received permission to re-enter. The report was vague on whether the planned change would apply to those who have already temporarily left the country and are still abroad, or whether it would cover those who are planning to leave.

The entry ban on overseas travelers, which was introduced on April 3 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, denies entry to nearly all of its foreign legal residents. The government has only exempted long-term residence visa holders, permanent residents along with their spouses and children, as well as Japanese nationals who had departed the country before it added their destinations to its entry ban list, which following the latest update on July 24 covers 146 countries and regions.