Japan quickly reverses course on halt of new reservations for inbound flights

In an apparent reversal, the government dropped its request Thursday that airlines stop taking reservations for all Japan-bound travel after the measure, announced less than 24 hours earlier, caused confusion among Japanese nationals abroad, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

“We will drop the request for a blanket halt. The transport ministry has notified airlines to give sufficient considerations for Japanese nationals wishing to return,” Matsuno told a news conference a day after the government’s stunning decision amid fears of the omicron coronavirus variant.

It’s not yet clear how the government’s reversal will affect foreign residents of Japan.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had hinted at a possible review of Japan’s re-entry restrictions.

“I have instructed the transport ministry to give thorough considerations for Japanese nationals wishing to return,” Kishida told reporters Thursday morning.

The government directed airlines on Wednesday to stop taking new bookings for all international flights to Japan, effective Thursday. The nation’s two largest carriers, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, quickly accepted the request.

Japanese expats and travelers overseas were shaken by the sudden border restrictions, with many anxious about whether they would be able to return home.

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