Despite the lifting of the state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, strict entry restrictions at airports and ports will remain in place, with no sign of when they will be eased, writes Magdalena Osumi.

On Thursday, the government announced it would extend its blanket travel ban on all new entries for foreign nationals, reflecting concerns about the spread of new coronavirus variants. However, a list of “special exceptional circumstances” under which nonresidents can enter has been expanded.

At the same time, Japan is considering requiring all inbound travelers to test for new coronavirus variants, health minister Norihisa Tamura said Sunday, up from the current list of 24 countries, seven of which were added on Saturday.

China launches world's first vaccine passport scheme [from 1'20'] | FRANCE 24 ENGLISH
China launches world’s first vaccine passport scheme [from 1’20’] | FRANCE 24 ENGLISH

In a bid to reboot international travel, the European Commission last week proposed a Digital Green Certificate system that would show if a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the disease. China has already launched a domestic version.

But with delayed vaccine rollouts and concerns about problems that might emerge once a global vaccine passport system is in place, such as discrimination against the unjabbed, Japan remains cautious, writes Osumi.

Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 256 (239), Miyagi 112 (49), Osaka 100 (92), Chiba 88 (106), Saitama 79 (77), Kanagawa 77 (109), Hokkaido 60 (45), Hyogo 46 (38), Aichi 34 (24), Fukuoka 34 (38), Yamagata 31 (3). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker