Japan will require all travelers from mainland China to test negative for Covid-19, due to the rapid spread of the virus in the country. Chinese visitors who test positive will have to remain in lockdown for seven days.
With Frédéric Charles, RFI correspondent in Tokyo
These new measures, which will take effect in Japan at midnight on December 30, are a reaction to the end of China’s “Covid zero” strategy. China will reopen its borders on January 8, 2023.
Visitors from China will be the only ones automatically required to undergo a Covid test upon arrival in Japan. The number of flights to Japan from mainland China will also be limited.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, justifies these measures due to the difficulty of establishing the precise evolution of the pandemic in China. “This is cause for concern in Japan,” he said. At a low point in opinion polls, Fumio Kishida also knows that, in a country at odds with China, which he fears any rise in infections carried by foreign visitors, such moves are unlikely to lose him further popularity.
Need of Chinese tourists
After two and a half years of hermetic closure, Japan has also reopened its borders to tourists in October 2022, after proof of vaccination or a negative test before departure.
This requirement of PCR tests for visitors from China will delay the massive return of Chinese tourists to the archipelago, which is crucial for the Japanese tourism sector. In 2019, one in three foreign tourists entering Japan came from China. In fact, Japan needs the spending of Chinese tourists to sustain its domestic consumption.
On Wednesday, December 28, the Hong Kong authorities also called on Japan to lift the “hasty” restrictions on direct flights between the city and the country.
Meanwhile, Chinese expatriates in Japan are buying up all the fever and headache medicines they can find in pharmacies to send to their families, who are suffering from shortages in China.
Restrictions also imposed in the USA.
Like Japan, the United States is also considering placing entry restrictions on people from China. This was declared by the authorities on Tuesday, December 27. The United States is “following the science and the advice of public health experts, consulting with its partners and considering similar measures … to protect the American people,” said the US authorities, concerned about the lack of official figures on the outbreak. in China, as well as the lack of “transparent data, including viral genome sequences.”