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Japan to stick to strict COVID-19 border measures and push for higher wages: PM Kishida

Japan to stick to strict COVID-19 border measures and push for higher wages: PM Kishida

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wearing a protective face mask delivers his policy speech at the start of an extraordinary session of the lower house of the parliament, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO: Japan will stick to its COVID-19 border control measures for the time being, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday (Dec 21), giving no end-date for one of the world's strictest curbs on foreign visitors.

Kishida also told a news conference that he would compile a policy package on Dec 27 to allow small firms to pass on the cost of wage hikes, another sign of his drive to address what has become one of the single biggest problems in the world's No 3 economy - low wages.

Kishida said the rigorous border controls would remain in place for the time being. Japan reversed an easing of controls late last month as the Omicron coronavirus variant spread around the world.

Kishida, who was speaking a day after parliament approved the first extra budget of the 2021 fiscal year, with record spending of US$317 billion.

The ¥36 trillion (US$317 billion) budget earmarks funds for tackling COVID-19, including to secure vaccines and drugs, while it also features cash payouts for families with children and funds for the promotion of tourism.

Kishida also said he would make arrangements so that Pfizer's coronavirus oral drugs would be available early next year.

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Source: Reuters/jt

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