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TB checks eyed for visitors

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government is considering requiring foreign visitors, particularly people from Asia, who are planning an extended stay in Japan to undergo a tuberculosis check at designated hospitals in their home country before coming to Japan, according to sources.

The government will ask foreigners to submit documents proving they are not affected with tuberculosis as a condition for issuing visas, the sources said.

An increasing number of foreign nationals visiting Japan have been found to have the disease, fueling concerns over the spread of the infection. The government is therefore aiming to prepare countermeasures by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will take place.

Under the current Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, tuberculosis patients are not allowed to enter Japan. However, due to the self-reporting system, people who are unaware they are infected despite having symptoms may enter the country. Such people often assume they have a cold or some other physical problem.

Airports and other facilities that deal with international flights conduct thermographic inspections to check passengers’ body temperatures, but it is still difficult to find everyone who has tuberculosis.

Under the new measure, the government plans to ask travelers to undergo X-rays and other examinations to check if they are infected at medical institutions in their home countries that have been designated by the Japanese government.

It intends to require the procedure from foreign nationals who plan to stay in Japan for three months or longer for study or work.

If they are not infected with tuberculosis, travelers will receive a medical certificate for uninfected individuals and submit it when applying for a visa. People who are found to be infected will not be allowed to enter Japan until treatment is completed in their country. Visas will be issued when a certificate of their recovery is submitted.

This preliminary inspection system is expected to be introduced as early as this fiscal year.

In 2016, there were 1,338 visitors to Japan who were newly registered as having tuberculosis, up 174 from the previous year.

About 80 percent of the foreign nationals who developed the disease in Japan were from the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia and Myanmar. For that reason, the government will begin with preliminary inspection of visitors from those countries, and consider expanding the list of countries.Speech

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