The foreign ministers of Japan and the U.S. on Friday agreed to closely cooperate on the coronavirus outbreak, recognizing the need to impose border controls for a certain period of time to address the global health crisis.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held telephone talks after the United States advised citizens to avoid all international travel and urged those abroad to return immediately as infections continued to surge.
“To prevent the spread of the infection, it is necessary to implement appropriate border controls for a certain period of time, and it is important that Japan and the United States as well as related countries cooperate and share information on the issue,” Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The two diplomats also agreed to share lessons from their attempts to contain the outbreak and to explore the possibility of jointly developing a vaccine or treatment for the pneumonia-causing virus.
As the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations are slated to hold a videoconference in place of their meeting in the United States next week, Motegi and Pompeo agreed there should be substantial discussion on the coronavirus and other challenges the world faces.
Over 10,000 people around the world have died from the disease known as COVID-19 since the coronavirus that causes it emerged in China late last year. Over 250,000 infections have been logged so far, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University.
The World Health Organization has said the epicenter of the outbreak has shifted to Europe, led by Italy, which is under a nationwide lockdown.
The United States, which holds this year’s G7 presidency, has also been struggling to contain the crisis, with infections there exceeding 14,000.
It canceled a June summit with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union, and will instead hold a videoconference.
The pandemic has pushed many countries to impose travel restrictions and encourage social distancing, raising fears the global economy is headed for a recession.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Pompeo and Motegi also agreed on the need for “transparency and accountability by all nations in the face of this international crisis.”
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been stepping up its criticism of China for its alleged failure to inform the world of the epidemic earlier.
“It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier. It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started,” the president said at a news conference on Thursday, referring to the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first reported late last year.
“And certainly, the world is paying a big price for what they did,” he added.