CNN reports that Kishida said, "In order to further advance the efforts of 'living with Corona' and restore Japan to a state of normalcy, we will transition the various policies and measures to date in phases."
According to Japan’s Health Ministry, Covid is classified as a Class 2 disease, the same category as the avian flu and other SARS diseases as well as tuberculosis. Covid will be downgraded to the lowest declension, Class 5, where illnesses such as seasonal flu reside in the category.
A Class 5 disease enables the Japanese government to restrict those infected with Covid to certain locations along with additional governmental mandates. Japan mandated self-isolations for those infected with Covid and treatment of patients was relegated to special facilities. The downgrade would let Covid patients seek treatment at regular hospitals.
Downgrading Covid would also mean mask-wearing would no longer be required but Kishida said Health Ministry officials are reviewing if they would make exceptions to the downgrade and try to keep some of the Covid mandates, such as masks.
According to ABC News, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, "Changing its classification doesn't mean coronavirus is gone. We still need everyone to take voluntary measures by using masks and precautions."
Kato went on to note that it is not necessary currently to wear masks outdoor and indoor mask-wearing will be relaxed after the downgrade in the Spring.
Japan, like the US, use the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines with regard to Covid.In 2021, Japan hosted the Olympics without fans in the stadium for fear of Covid spread and created a state of emergency specifically during the games to enforce strict Covid measures for the games' attendees.
Japan even introduced a Covid-fighting mascot named Koronon in the type of Hello Kitty.