THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
September 23, 2020 at 16:35 JST
Japan plan to reopen its borders to mid- and long-term visitors from around the world as early as October, but tourists will have to wait longer to enter.
Travelers who will stay in Japan for more than three months for business or other non-tourism purposes are expected to be the first ones allowed to enter the country, according to multiple government sources.
Entry restrictions on foreign students will be completely lifted, the sources said.
The government will set a maximum daily quota of 1,000 entrants, the sources said.
They will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks and follow other health protocols to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.
The government, in principle, denies entry to foreign nationals, and travel warnings are still in place for 159 countries and regions.
However, Japan has negotiated a resumption of business travel with 16 countries and regions mainly in Asia that have shown success in containing the virus.
For example, the government in late July resumed travel of long-term residents from seven countries and regions, such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Government sources said these eased restrictions so far “have not led to a surge of new COVID-19 cases.”
In the meantime, countries in Europe and North America have put pressure on Japan to reopen its borders.
In response, the Japanese government decided to expand the “exception” to the current travel restrictions and accept more people who meet certain conditions, such as longer-term visas and favorable health conditions in their home countries.
The eased restrictions are targeted at visitors in various fields, such as health care, education and cultural activities, who hold a mid- or long-term visas.
The government is expected to partially open the borders for short-term visitors, but not tourists.
Entrants will be required to prove they are not infected by taking a virus test before departure and after arrival.
After entry, they will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, the same measures set up for long-term business travelers.
They will also need to sign a commitment form and name a “guarantor” in Japan who will ensure they follow the rules.
The number of entrants may change, depending on the pandemic situation in each country.
Separate from the 1,000-a-day quota, the Japanese government will likely allow entry to up to 1,600 visitors per day from those 16 mainly Asian countries and regions.
“Other than the two-week self-quarantine requirement, restrictions on visitors from these 16 countries and regions will be almost fully lifted,” a government source said.
Foreign students who have received scholarships and other types of financial support from the Japanese government are already allowed to enter Japan.
But pressure has mounted on the government to let in other students before the start of the fall term.
In preparation for the reopening, the government will increase testing capabilities at New Chitose, Chubu and Fukuoka airports, in addition to Haneda, Narita and Kansai airports.
By the end of November, the government hopes to be able to perform 20,000 tests a day at these airports.
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