Japan may soon allow business visits from Thailand

Japan may soon allow business visits from Thailand

First easing possible in summer

A rickshaw driver takes a souvenir photo for his clients in Asakusa district of Tokyo on March 25. (Photo: Reuters)
A rickshaw driver takes a souvenir photo for his clients in Asakusa district of Tokyo on March 25. (Photo: Reuters)

TOKYO: Business trips from Thailand and three other countries could be the first step to be negotiated as Japan plans to ease its entry ban, a Japanese government source said on Monday.

Infections have subsided in Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand, which have strong business ties with Japan. Thailand reported only one new coronavirus case on Monday, bringing the total to 3,082.

Lifting the ban for business visitors is being eyed as a first step and Tokyo will negotiate conditions with the four nations, according to the source.

As of Monday, Japan had entry bans on 111 countries and regions, including the United States, most of Asia and all of Europe. The bans are in effect until the end of June.

The first easing may take place this northern summer after the government works out details and makes arrangements with the four countries. Japan is considering allowing entry of foreigners from countries who have certification for testing negative for the virus, according to the source.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, welcomed the decision and said all visitors returning from Japan would be sent to state quarantine places for 14 days.

Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand are among the 11 members of a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that Japan is also part of. Thailand, which wants to join the multilateral framework, hosts many Japanese companies, including automakers.

Japan was a top destination for Thai tourists before the pandemic shut down travel worldwide.

Currently, foreigners, including some of those with residency in Japan, who have been to countries on the entry-ban list during the previous 14 days are turned away.

A 14-day quarantine period is required for all arrivals in Japan, including Japanese nationals.

Japan has so far avoided an explosive surge in coronavirus infections and last week completely lifted the state of emergency declared on April 7. It covered all 47 prefectures at one point.

The end of the virus emergency has opened the way for a gradual reopening of the economy, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will cautious in reviewing travel bans.

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