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Commentary: Government cautious on resuming travel with China

  • July 1, 2020
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The Japanese government is exercising caution on the resumption of travel with China in consideration of Japan’s relationship with Taiwan and the U.S., whose conflict with China is intensifying. With the heavy traffic to and from China and South Korea, relaxation of travel restrictions between Japan and the two countries would be premised on the expansion of Japan’s testing scheme. 


The Japanese government takes diplomatic equilibrium into account when deciding the order in which overseas travel is resumed. The government and ruling parties are cautious about putting China ahead of the U.S. and Taiwan, when China was the first country in which the infection spread.


The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Foreign Affairs Division formulated a resolution to request the government to immediately resume travel between Taiwan and Japan. Taiwan was able to contain the outbreak in its early stages, and China today sees only small increases in its number of cases. Some think that if restrictions against Taiwan were relaxed, China may pressure Japan to resume travel with it, too.


Expansion of testing is crucial in the resumption of overseas travel. According to Immigration Services Agency data, Japan had about 9 million visitors from China, including Hong Kong, in 2018, the largest number of any country. Second was South Korea at about 7.8 million. Together, this means that about 40,000 people arrived in Japan every day from these countries.


Japan’s PCR capacity nationwide is 2,300 per day as of the end of June 2020. Resuming travel with China and South Korea would be difficult in the present situation.


The government first relaxed travel with Thailand and Vietnam. This was to test out travel restriction easing with countries with which Japan has less traffic than China and South Korea. Many Japanese companies also requested the resumption of travel to/from Thailand and Vietnam.


Japan aims to revitalize its economy by gradually expanding overseas travel while preventing the spread of the coronavirus. As of July 1,  entry restrictions are in place for 129 countries and regions. Entry from the U.S., China, South Korea, Taiwan, and EU nations is refused in principle.


Japanese re-entering Japan from the above countries and regions are subject to testing. Even it the tests are negative, the travelers must stay at home for two weeks.

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