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MOFA repeatedly advises Japanese nationals in China to consider returning home

  • February 12, 2020
  • , Mainichi , p. 5
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

By Ryuko Tadokoro

 

With the spread of a new type of coronavirus in China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been taking the unprecedented step of repeatedly advising Japanese nationals in China to consider temporarily returning to Japan and those considering traveling to the country to consider postponing their plans. The ministry is increasingly on the alert for a possible increase in the number of Japanese nationals traveling to and from China because full-fledged corporate activities were resumed on Feb. 10 with the end of the Chinese New Year holidays.

 

Since Jan. 24, the ministry’s travel advice and warning on infectious diseases for China has been kept at Level 3, or “avoid all travel,” for Hubei Province. On Jan. 31, the ministry raised its travel alert for the whole of China other than Hubei to Level 2, which warns citizens to “avoid nonessential travel.” Since that day, the ministry has called on Japanese nationals at least 15 times to temporarily return to Japan from China or delay their travels to that country, saying, “We request a sensible approach, such as delaying the schedule for sending employees back to China” and “Please proactively consider safety, including having employees temporarily return to Japan or postpone their travel there.”

 

The government is most concerned about the possible application by Chinese authorities of movement restrictions in such major cities as Beijing and Shanghai, which are home to many representatives of Japanese private firms, as it could mean that tens of thousands of Japanese nationals would have to immediately evacuate depending on the circumstances. Movement restrictions have already been introduced in many areas across China, including Chongqing City. The government has issued warnings each and every day as it is concerned about airlines canceling more of their flights between Japan and China or reducing their number of flights.

 

A senior MOFA official explains: “We must avoid a situation where Japanese nationals in China can’t visit hospitals in their area as happened in Wuhan. That’s why we’re making a strong appeal.”

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