Photo/Illutration Arriving passengers at Narita Airport wait to be questioned about their travel history. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan will consider easing its border controls for the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus from as early as March, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Feb. 12.

He made the comment while visiting Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to get a first-hand look at border control steps in place there.

Japan’s latest entry ban on foreign arrivals took effect last Nov. 30. The deadline for that measure expires Feb. 28.

Meeting reporters, Kishida explained what factors would be taken into consideration before relaxing border control measures.

“We will comprehensively assess such things as the accumulation of scientific knowledge on the Omicron and other variants, changes in infection trends both in Japan and overseas as well as the border control measures being implemented in other countries,” he said, adding that specific steps will be decided later.

While Kishida likes to boast that Japan imposed the toughest curbs among Group of Seven nations, there are strident calls to relax the rules from foreign students wanting to enter Japan as well as companies in desperate need of foreign technical interns.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of junior coalition partner Komeito, as well as Shinzo Abe, a former prime minister, have called for a review of the border control measures.