• Kyodo, JIJI

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Japan is considering exempting businesspeople entering Japan on a 72-hour or less short stay from the country's quarantine requirement, provided they follow certain COVID-19 precautions, government sources said Thursday.

Japan aims to start accepting such business travelers from countries and regions with which it has deep economic ties, such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, possibly from November. The step is aimed at boosting the pandemic-hit economy by helping international business activities to resume.

"There are many business trips and negotiations that can comfortably be completed within 72 hours. We hope to return to normal as soon as possible while giving attention to (preventing) the spread of infections," a source at the Prime Minister's Office said.

The government will select countries that will be eligible to make use of the exemption depending on their respective coronavirus situations.

Japan has already agreed to similar arrangements for business arrivals from Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam under some conditions including virus testing and limiting the places they can visit. Such requirements would also be in place under the expanded system, the sources said.

The latest measure is different from the "business track" framework with those three countries in that it is one-way, only covering arrivals from other countries.

Accepting entry by very short-term business travelers is in line with a policy of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to aid the economy.

It is also aimed at laying the foundation for the acceptance of nonbusiness travelers from overseas at a time when the government is seeking to hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with spectators next summer, the sources said.

The government is expected to exempt very short-term foreign business travelers from a two-week quarantine if they test negative for the novel coronavirus at the time of entry.

Such travelers will also be required to submit activity plans for their stays in Japan and avoid using public transportation and visiting places other than their workplaces and accommodation facilities, according to the sources.

The number of coronavirus checks conducted at three key international airports in Japan stands at some 10,000 per day. With a senior government official suggesting that there is adequate capacity for conducting more tests, the government plans to increase the daily number of tests to 20,000.

The three airports are Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture.

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