Japan and China agreed Wednesday to work toward resuming mutual travel that has stalled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi discussed the issue with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, over the phone, the Foreign Ministry said.
China is among a group of countries for which Japan is considering easing its travel ban as the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks to balance economic recovery with containing the coronavirus.
The travel ban is currently in place for 146 countries and regions, with foreign travelers who have been to any of them within 14 days of arriving in Japan being refused entry.
Motegi and Wang agreed to make arrangements for the resumption of mutual travel “as soon as possible,” according to the ministry.
During the 80-minute call, Motegi reiterated concern over repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands.
The uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are administered by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.
The ministry said Motegi also voiced concern over the situation in Hong Kong, where China has imposed a new national security law empowering it to crack down on what it views as subversive activity.
Critics say the law impinges on human rights and freedoms that were promised to the former British colony for 50 years after its return to Chinese control in 1997.
Both the maritime intrusions and the Hong Kong issue have become sources of tension between Tokyo and Beijing, with conservative lawmakers in Japan urging Abe’s administration to rescind an invitation for Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit as a state guest.
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