(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s reopening has been frustratingly slow following its strict Covid-19 border restrictions, a senior executive at Daiwa Securities Group Inc. said, as the Asian nation prepares to welcome its first batch of foreign tourists since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s very frustrating to be honest,” Keiko Tashiro, deputy president of Japan’s second-largest brokerage, said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Wednesday. “When I travel abroad, I see all the economic activity in Europe and the US, but Japan is still very closed.”

Tashiro is the latest Japanese corporate executive to openly question the government’s policy, following criticism from the president of All Nippon Airways Co. and Rakuten Group Inc. Japan’s border controls, implemented when the omicron variant started to circulate late last year, have been the strictest among the Group of Seven advanced nations. 

The caution in reopening underlines the zeal with which its population, the world’s oldest, has supported strict border measures as a tool in controlling the spread of Covid-19. Although the country will start allowing in small groups of tourists on package tours this month on an experimental basis, the measure comes with conditions. 

“Foreigners still need a visa, and we are still not open to travelers,” Tashiro said. “I think the business community is very frustrated that the government is not moving quicker.”

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.