My colleague in Tokyo, Justin McCurry, has this update on plans for Japan and South Korea to this week agree to resume business travel between the two countries amid optimism over the slowing of new Covid-19 infections. Tourism will remain on hold.
Japanese media reported that expatriates and other long-term residents, as well as travellers on short business trips, will be able to enter one country from the other provided they test negative for the coronavirus and provide details of their itineraries.
While no date has been announced for the resumption of business travel across the Japan Sea – known as the East Sea in Korea – Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, agreed to speed up talks in a phone call with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, late last month, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Japan began imposing travel bans on foreign visitors as early as February that eventually included 159 countries and regions. But it recently relaxed restrictions on people entering for work and long-term foreign stays from countries where the pace of new infections is slow.
Entrants are required to take a virus test before departure and after arriving in Japan, and to self-quarantine for two weeks. They must also name a guarantor in Japan who ensures they follow the rules.
Tourism across Japan Sea – known as the East Sea in Korea – will remain off-limits, however. More than 5.5 million South Koreans visited Japan last year, including just over 300,000 who were here on business, according to the Japan national Tourism Association.
Japan’s blanket ban on international tourism could be relaxed in time for the postponed summer Olympics in Tokyo, which are due to open on 23 July, media reports said this week.
Measures under consideration include requiring tourists to download a health check app as soon as they obtain visas in their home countries and to provide proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 before departure.
Those who test negative again on arrival in Japan could be exempt from two weeks of self-quarantine provided they use the app to regularly update authorities on their physical condition, Jiji Press reported.