The Japanese government is considering easing its entry ban on visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand currently in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, a government source said Monday.
Infections have subsided in those countries, which have strong business ties with Japan. Lifting the ban for business visitors is being eyed as a first step and Tokyo will negotiate conditions with the four nations, according to the source.
As of Monday, Japan has imposed entry bans on 111 countries and regions including the United States, most of Asia and all of Europe. The bans are currently in effect until the end of June.
The first easing may take place this summer after the government works out details and makes arrangements with the four countries. Japan is considering allowing entry of foreigners from the countries who have certification for testing negative for the virus, according to the source.
Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand are among the 11 members of a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that Japan is also part of. Thailand, which also wants to join the multilateral framework, hosts many Japanese companies, including automakers.
Travelers to Japan have plunged in recent months amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Under the current border control measures, foreign nationals, including some of those with residency in Japan, who have been to the countries on the entry ban list within 14 days of their arrival in Japan will be turned away.
A 14-day quarantine period is set for all travelers to Japan, including Japanese nationals.
Japan has so far avoided an explosive surge in coronavirus infections and last week fully lifted a state of emergency that was first declared on April 7 and covered all 47 prefectures at one point.
The end of the virus emergency has opened the way for a gradual reopening of the economy but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will carefully review the travel bans.