Japan relaxed its entry restrictions on Monday for businesspeople, students and technical trainees, but continues to keep tourists out as the country eyes a 30 trillion yen ($265 billion) stimulus package to ease the economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business travelers with vaccination documents recognized by Japanese authorities "will be allowed to go out for their necessary businesses and use public transportation" after quarantining for three days and testing negative for the virus, said Japan's health ministry.
The change, which is part of a broader easing of travel rules, came as the country witnessed a fall in new cases to the hundreds from a peak of tens of thousands of cases just a few months ago.
On Sunday, Japan reported 157 cases and saw no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in 15 months. That brought down Japan's average daily case numbers of the past week to 191, a 38 percent decrease from two weeks ago.
Around 73 percent of Japan's population have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the University of Oxford.
Businesspeople, who have been fully inoculated with one of three vaccines－from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca－can apply for the shorter quarantine.
This means unvaccinated travelers and those inoculated with other vaccines still have to be quarantined for 14 days.
In an interview with China Daily, a health ministry official said it may take "a week or two" before the first batch of business travelers, who have been granted shorter quarantine periods, arrive in Japan.
Students and technical trainees can also apply for a shortened quarantine of 10 days if they receive one of the three approved vaccines.
Seiji Kihara, Japan's deputy chief cabinet secretary, said on Friday that the government will need to evaluate when tourists will be allowed into the country.
Though inbound tourism is banned for now, the Japanese government is looking to promote domestic tourism by reviving a travel campaign following a more than 30 trillion yen stimulus package aiming to ease the fallout on its pandemic-battered economy.
Kyodo News reported that the package will include providing 100,000 yen in cash handouts for all citizens aged 18 or younger and restarting the "Go To Travel" subsidy program to promote domestic tourism.