The Japanese government will consider tightening border control in response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus. It will look into the possibility of expanding entry restrictions to cover more European regions in light of the World Health Organization’s designation of the new coronavirus as a “pandemic” and U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is imposing travel restrictions on travelers from European countries. Tokyo will also seek understanding from Washington so that the U.S. will refrain from extending the entry ban to include Japan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on March 9 called on Japanese nationals in and traveling to Europe to “please try to prevent infection by paying attention to the potential geographical expansion of infection and obtaining up-to-the-minute information” following a spike in the number of confirmed cases of infection in Europe. MOFA also issued a Level 1 Warning on Infectious Diseases for Germany, France, Spain, and Switzerland to call on travelers to the territories to be very careful.
A Japanese government insider says, “We’ll decide on measures for Germany and France by closely monitoring the situation,” indicating a plan to gradually extend the nation’s list of regions subject to entry restrictions by monitoring the spread of infection with these countries in mind.
On March 11, President Trump announced in a televised speech that the U.S. will impose an entry ban on foreign nationals who have stayed in European countries other than the UK. This provides the basis for Japan to strengthen its border control.
On the other hand, the Japanese government is wary of the possibility that more countries will impose entry restrictions on travelers from Japan. If the flow of people is restricted in response to the moves of the U.S., in particular, Japanese economic activities will be significantly affected. And if the U.S. designates Japan as a country subject to its entry restrictions, many countries could follow suit.
Trump did not mention measures for Japan during his March 11 speech, but on March 3 he said, “We’re eyeing Italy, South Korea, and Japan very closely.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference on March 12, “We’ll thoroughly explain to the U.S. and the international community our efforts to prevent infection and what’s going on in Japan,” indicating his intention to seek understanding from the U.S. (Abridged)