Japan has announced plans to lift overseas travel bans imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with Australia and New Zealand at the head of the queue.
The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, confirmed on Wednesday that his government will consider easing restrictions on countries where the outbreak is under control.
This includes Asian countries, including China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as Pacific partners Australia and New Zealand.
It is promising news for jet-setting Australians, but overseas travel is currently off-limits unless exempt from the Department of the Interior.
But there is a constant call for a travel bubble of the corona virus between countries such as New Zealand and Australia, including Japan and South Korea.
Australia is expected to be one of the first countries where Japan reopens its international borders (photo, a woman visiting the country’s cherry blossom fields)
Foreign visitors are said to be tested twice for coronavirus and must provide an itinerary of their journey as part of the strict conditions to access Japan, the world’s fourth largest economy.
Access will initially be limited to business travelers, experts and interns, but ultimately only with students and tourists.
The country had previously closed its border to foreign travelers in February to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Australia is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand and has strong tourism and trade relations with each country.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi recently hinted that Japan was planning talks with countries with high demand for business travel and declining virus outbreaks.
Japan is already in talks to reopen its borders to international travelers, including Australia and Kiwis (pictured, Tokyo’s vibrant nightlife district of Shinjuku)
“It won’t be long before we start looking at the second group of countries,” the minister told reporters earlier this month.
Japan’s borders are currently closed to travelers from 129 countries following the global outbreak of the virus earlier this year.
The number of foreign visitors and outgoing Japanese nationals has fallen by more than 99 percent in recent months compared to 2019.
Travelers entering Japan, including nationals, are required to quarantine at a designated location and not use public transportation for a fortnight on arrival.
Flights to Vietnam were partially resumed in June.
Japan Could Be the First Overseas Destination for Australian Travelers After the Pandemic (photo, a traveler on vacation in the country)
Japan declared a state of emergency in April due to the pandemic, which forced the shutdown of most tourist attractions for nearly two months.
Most attractions have since reopened as the contamination rate in Japan is decreasing.
More than 20,650 of the 26,303 cases in Japan have recovered from the virus, which claimed 989 lives.
The Japanese government also plans to allow foreign residents with entry permits back into the country soon.
Travel restrictions with other parts of the world will be relaxed as the situation improves.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) supports the lifting of a number of overseas travel bans
There are still fears that Australians may not be able to travel abroad until 2021 after Qantas recently removed international flights from its website, including routes to New Zealand, until international announcement.
Flights to New Zealand are now unavailable until September 1, despite neighboring countries expecting to prepare to open a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia.
Flights elsewhere will no longer be available until March 28, 2021.
Travel restrictions are expected to be lifted in the first half of 2021, according to the forecast budget outlook on Thursday.
“This leads to the resumption of arrivals by temporary and permanent migrants, but at a lower total level than usual,” the prospects said.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said no decision has yet been made on opening the borders.