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Japan to ban non-resident foreigners after finding new COVID-19 variant

Japan to ban non-resident foreigners after finding new COVID-19 variant
Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's minister of economic revitalization, said new measures affecting foreign residents in Japan will go into effect following the country reporting a new COVID-19 variant among travelers from Brazil. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Japan plans to suspend entry of all non-resident foreigners and deport foreign residents if they violate quarantine regulations.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister of economic revitalization, said Wednesday that foreign passport holders with special permission to live in Japan could have their status revoked and face deportation if they do not quarantine for 14 days after landing, Kyodo News reported.

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The stricter measures are being implemented after a man who arrived from Britain, and whose nationality was not identified, left his shelter to meet people, according to the report. This week, Japan also reported a new and highly infectious coronavirus variant among travelers from Brazil.

The entry ban affecting all non-resident foreigners is to go into effect Thursday. Japan had a policy of exemptions for business travelers and students from Taiwan and 10 East and Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.

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The permission is being revoked until Feb. 7, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

"We will swiftly complete arrangements," Suga said at a press briefing. "I take seriously growing anxieties among the Japanese people."

Japan continues to report a surge in daily coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the country confirmed 5,000 new patients. Total cases stand at 297,315 since the start of the pandemic.

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Japan's inclusion of South Korea in the entry ban comes at a time of tensions between the two countries. Last week Tokyo protested a South Korean court ruling ordering Japan to compensate 12 "comfort women" forced to serve in Japanese wartime brothels.

But on Wednesday, sources in Seoul said Japan consulted Korea on the business travel ban, according to South Korean news service News 1.

NHK reported that foreigners exempt from the ban include those traveling for "special reasons," including a relative's funeral or childbirth.

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