Japan may lift travel ban on 12 countries, Japanese paper reports

Posted on : 2020-10-09 17:09 KST Modified on : 2020-10-09 17:09 KST
Immigration procedures to be streamlined by waiving 2-week quarantine for business travelers
Travelers bound for Tokyo at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 on Oct. 8. (Yonhap News)
Travelers bound for Tokyo at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 on Oct. 8. (Yonhap News)

The Japanese government is likely to end a travel advisory and remove a ban on arrivals from 12 countries, including South Korea, as early as next month. While that won’t immediately pave the way for visa-free travel, it will streamline immigration procedures by waiving the mandatory two-week quarantine under certain conditions. While South Korea and Japan have already been admitting business travelers, exchange students, and other mid- and long-term residents, this step further eases those requirements.

On Oct. 8, the Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, quoted multiple government officials as saying that Japan was planning to end a travel advisory and lift a ban on travelers from 12 countries and regions, including South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, where the COVID-19 situation has been stabilized. The changes could come into effect as early as Nov. 1.

If implemented, these measures would simplify immigration procedures. Japanese who are returning from business trips overseas and foreigners with residency status in Japan would be exempted from the normal two-week quarantine, provided that they submit a plan for their activities and refrain from using public transportation.

“The goal is to stimulate the economy by taking steps to make it easier for businesspeople to do business overseas,” the Asahi Shimbun said. While noting that “continuing restrictions on visas mean that foreign travelers will still be unable to visit Japan for the time being,” the newspaper said that “these steps will represent a major turning point in the response to COVID-19.”

As travel between South Korea and Japan gradually becomes more feasible, airlines are starting to take action as well. Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday that Zip Air, a low-cost carrier owned by Japan Airlines, is planning to operate flights between Seoul and Tokyo sometime this month. While the airline had initially planned to launch service back in May, it had to delay those plans because of COVID-19.

By Kim So-youn, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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