Most foreign students waiting to study in Japan will likely be able to enter the country by the end of May, as a new priority entry program is set to begin amid softer COVID-19 border controls, the top government spokesman said Wednesday.

The program will be launched in mid-March, before the new academic year starts in April, allocating empty seats on weekday flights to foreign students wishing to study in Japan. The launch will mean around 1,000 students can arrive on top of the daily cap on entrants, which will be raised to 7,000 from Monday.

"We expect the entry of those students (wishing to study in Japan) to be realized to a great extent by the end of May," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters at a press briefing.