• Japan Retracts New Flight Booking Ban Following Criticism
Passengers walk through Narita International Airport, just east of Tokyo. (Photo: AP-Yonhap)

Japan's transport ministry has retracted a ban on new incoming international flight bookings a day after announcing the strict policy to defend against the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The ministry said Thursday it dropped the request following criticisms that it was too strict and an overreaction.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the quick reversal took into consideration the traveling needs of Japanese nationals.

Japan has reported two Omicron cases so far.

Kishida has been pushing to take strong precautionary measures after his predecessor Yoshihide Suga virtually lost his leadership position amid public criticism that his virus measures were too limited and too slow.

Japan will still cap arrivals to 3,500 a day.

The country has already banned entry of foreign nationals from around the world, except for spouses of Japanese nationals, those with permanent residency permits and others subject to special considerations.

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