Japan sealed its borders faster and tighter than almost any country after the omicron variant emerged last month, leaving Japanese nationals, foreign residents, visa holders and exchange students — not to mention their spouses and children — scrambling desperately to find out if they would be able to enter the country, or leave and come back.

And yet, despite all the frustration and confusion, the public was surprisingly supportive of the strong response by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who said last week that border controls set to expire by the end of December will be extended “for the time being.”

The administration’s handling of the new variant has again shone a light on the human cost of tough pandemic countermeasures and demonstrated the country’s continued willingness to pay the price.