THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 1, 2020 at 16:35 JST
The international flight area at Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture stands empty on June 10. (Junichi Kamiyama)
The government is moving to ease reciprocal travel restrictions with Taiwan, South Korea and China, starting with business travelers, sources said.
Talks on the issue are expected to start as early as this month, and the government may add other countries, Brunei and Myanmar included, in similar negotiations.
Japanese officials decided to single out Taiwan, South Korea and China as curves in the new coronavirus pandemic have flattened there, the sources said.
Taiwan will be the first destination of the three that Japan will prioritize in negotiations over a possible easing of restrictions, including conditions for quarantine and epidemic control.
Visitors from Taiwan, South Korea and China would be obliged to undergo diagnostic testing for COVID-19 when they enter Japan, not just prior to their departure to Japan.
Japan’s capacity for testing has remained a stumbling block in efforts toward reopening.
Officials are now confident that the capacity will be significantly expanded as examining people with no symptoms of COVID-19 for the infection became possible with testing of saliva, which is easier than conducting a conventional test using a nasal swab.
Talks with Taiwan, South Korea and China would mark a second wave of such negotiations, after those with Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, with which Japan has held talks since June.
Tokyo capped the number of entrants from each of those countries at 250 per day before negotiations began with those countries.
Officials are still considering to what extent the number of entrants should be raised during talks with Taiwan, South Korea and China, the sources said.
In easing restrictions, priority will be given to business travelers, followed by students and, finally, tourists.
Of the first four countries that Japan has been negotiating with, Australia and New Zealand have expressed their intention to focus first on travel between their two countries.
That suggests that Japan’s negotiations with Taiwan will likely follow those with Vietnam and Thailand.
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