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Japan for much of the pandemic has required international arrivals to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Japan for much of the pandemic has required international arrivals to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

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TOKYO — Japan plans to drop its requirement that arriving, vaccinated international travelers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, even as the country is posting record-high levels of the respiratory disease.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at an online news conference Wednesday said Japan will end the requirement next month.

“From Sept. 7, those entering Japan can use proof that they have been vaccinated three times in exchange for proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure,” he said.

Kishida is recovering from COVID-19 himself.

Japan for much of the pandemic has required international arrivals to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Its tourism industry is slumping due to the continued restrictions.

Kishida also said he plans to increase the number of visitors that may enter daily but did not show an exact number on Wednesday. The cap is now set at 20,000 arrivals per day.

Japan has relaxed entry controls for international students, business travelers and the families of long-term residents and U.S. military personnel. In June, the country opened its doors to foreign tourists for the first time in two years. However, only limited numbers of tourists in guided groups organized by travel agencies are allowed entry, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Japan is in the seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It reported a record daily high of 343 deaths on Tuesday, and a record daily high of 260,948 new infections on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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