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Asia Minute: Japan Considers Easing Some Travel Restrictions

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

The visitor industry is adjusting its expectations for the summer now that Governor David Ige has delayed the next stage of re-opening to travelers who test negative for the coronavirus. While that delay will last until at least September, a new phase of travel is now under consideration in Japan.


Japan’s Foreign Minister says his government is willing to talk about easing some travel restrictions from certain countries. Those are likely to be countries that are experiencing falling numbers of coronavirus cases — coupled with the prospect of business travel.

Right now, Japan has a strict ban on travel from 129 countries and regions — based on the prevalence of the virus. But talks have already been underway with Australia, New Zealand and Thailand about easing business travel restrictions.

Late last month, more than 400 business travelers flew from Japan to Vietnam, which has had few COVID-19 cases and no fatalities. That travel involved testing for the virus, and any further expansion of travel plans would also include testing protocols — along with submitting a detailed itinerary.

Kyodo News reports discussions are underway or soon will be with about ten countries and region — including China, South Korea and Taiwan. They could also include Brunei, Myanmar and Laos.

The Foreign Minister says the top priorities will be “business travelers and international talent Japan is in need of.”

Next up would be foreign students, and the last group to be considered would be tourists.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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