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Travel restrictions set to ease between Vietnam, Japan

By Phan Anh   June 19, 2020 | 02:30 am PT
Travel restrictions set to ease between Vietnam, Japan
An employee of Japan Airlines scans the temperature of a passenger at the almost empty Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, March 14, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Edgard Garrido.
Vietnam has reached an agreement with Japan to gradually relax travel restrictions between the two countries, the foreign ministry said Friday.

"Both sides will discuss specific measures and procedures via diplomatic channels," the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated in a press release.

In another press release Thursday, the ministry’s spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang confirmed the government was in talks with several countries, including China, Japan and South Korea, on gradually recommencing travel, in accordance with the situation on the ground.

For now, experts and managers from the aforementioned three countries would be provided opportunities to return to Vietnam for work. In return, Vietnamese interns and workers would be similarly considered, Hang said.

Japan’s government has issued similar statements on resuming travel between the two countries.

Businesspeople from Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand would be allowed into Japan if they test negative for the novel coronavirus, Japanese media reported, citing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as saying Thursday.

Arrivals also have to save their GPS data on a smartphone app to aid contact tracing.

All arrivals would have to submit detailed itineraries on where they plan to visit during the first 14 days of their stay. They would not be able to use public transportation, Kyodo News reported.

Those eligible include executives, technical staff and those participating in the Technical Intern Training Program.

However, only citizens of the four aforementioned countries who travel between Japan and their home countries can enjoy this policy. The four countries were chosen because they had the virus under control, said Abe.

Besides the aforementioned "business track," a government official told a press briefing Japan is also considering a "residence track" that would allow more people into the country as long as they agree to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, among other requirements, the paper noted.

Students would be allowed entry later, followed by tourists, wrote Japan Today.

This isn’t the first time sources indicate Japan may allow travel to and from certain countries. The Yomiuri daily reported last week Japan may restart business trips to and from Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand in the next few months. Japan Today also stated last week, citing the Japanese government, that Japan from July may allow up to 250 foreign arrivals per day from these four countries, initially applicable to executives and engineers.

But Japan Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Monday denied the Japanese government had decided to ease entry for people from other countries, Reuters reported.

Instead, the government was examining ways to ease entry restrictions in stages, Motegi told parliament.

Japan currently has an entry ban in place for 111 countries and territories, which was implemented to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It was Vietnam's fourth largest FDI contributor in 2019 after South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, and its largest labor market, welcoming around 80,000 Vietnamese last year.

Vietnam has said it was considering allowing flights to destinations that have had no new Covid-19 cases for at least 30 days, including Tokyo, Seoul, Guangzou, Taiwan and Laos.

The nation has recorded 342 Covid-19 infections so far, with 17 active cases. It has recorded no community transmission in over two months, and zero fatalities.

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