Omicron travel ban: Japan prepares for worst possible situation

Japanese shares have tumbled to a six-week low, as the country responded to Omicron variant concerns by banning foreign visitors.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the drastic “countermeasures” were needed in response to the strain and made a “direct request” to his citizens for their cooperation.

“We will … prohibit entry into Japan by foreign nationals from anywhere globally beginning at midnight on November 30,” Kishida said.

“(The) emergency precautionary measure is intended to avoid the worst-possible situation for Japan.”

“Abundance of caution”

Kishida acknowledged the virulence and transmissibility of the Omicron strain was still being analyzed by global scientists and the “extraordinary” measures were being taken out of an “abundance of caution” until that analysis is complete.

We are carrying out political administration under the approach that we should respond to unknown risks with extreme caution,” he said.

As for any criticisms that Kishida is overly cautious even though the situation remains unknown, I am fully prepared to shoulder all responsibility as we tackle this challenge.”

Japan's new prime minister
Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Vaccine status

Japan has one of the highest rates of vaccination among the G7 nations and according to Kishida “has also seen the least amount of time pass since the second dose of the vaccination was administered.”

“In my perception, Japan’s resistance to the risks associated with the Omicron strain is stronger than that of any other country in the world,” he said.

“I call on all citizens to respond to this situation in a level-headed manner.

“I ask for the understanding of the citizens who will be inconvenienced as a result of these measures that account for unlikely possibilities.”

Market fall-out

Japan’s Nikkei index closed 1.63% down to close at 28,283.92 amid concerns about the impact the Omicron variant could have on the economy.