The head of Japan's business lobby, Masakazu Tokura, said Monday that it was "unrealistic" for the government to ban the entry of foreign nationals, with the new omicron coronavirus variant having become prevalent within the country.
Tokura, who is chairman of the Japan Business Federation, also known as Keidanren, made the comment during a regular news conference.
The strict entry ban has been in place since Nov. 30, with Japan confirming its first case of the omicron variant later that day. Earlier this month, the entry ban was further extended until the end of February.
Demonstrations against the tight border restrictions on nonresident foreign nationals have been staged in several countries, with people urging the government to reconsider the measures they say are not based on science.
Meanwhile, at Monday's news conference, Tokura also said it was hard to set a blanket level of wage hikes for all firms, pushing back against Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's calls for companies to raise pay to help achieve a sustainable economic recovery.
"Business conditions vary from company to company, so we can't set an uniform level" of wage hikes for all firms, he said.
"I think the prime minister took this point into account when he voiced hope for companies that saw profits rise increase wages by 3%," Tokura added.
Kishida has been piling pressure on firms to raise wages as part of efforts to prop up growth and distribute more wealth to households.
At last year's labor talks, major Japanese companies offered the lowest wage increases — below 2% — in eight years as the COVID-19 pandemic hammered corporate profits.