Japan agrees to allow fast-track entry of businesspeople from S. Korea

SEOUL, Japan has agreed to allow businesspeople from South Korea to enter the country without a 14-day coronavirus quarantine starting later this week, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.
The special entry procedure, set to take effect Oct. 8, comes about seven months after Tokyo slapped entry restrictions on Seoul in early March to stem the spread of the COVID-19, further straining the bilateral relations already frayed over wartime history and trade.
Fresh talks began in late July between the two countries about easing the entry curbs out of concerns that maintaining strict border controls would further weigh on the economies.
Under the eased entry program, businesspeople planning a short-term stay of up to 90 days in Japan will be exempt from mandatory two-week quarantine if they show proof of a negative coronavirus test result from the past 72 hours and a written document explaining the travel plan.
Their travel in Japan will be limited to areas near their work.
Long-term visitors are required to be tested for the virus upon their arrival and to self-isolate for two weeks.
Japan has effectively banned the entry of visitors from South Korea since March 9, with the imposition of tougher quarantine measures and suspension of the 90-day visa waiver program for South Koreans.
South Korea, in response, also tightened health screening at the airport for arrivals from the neighboring country and halted its own visa-free entry program for Japanese people.
The swift entry curbs between the two countries came as their bilateral relations became badly frayed over the issue of compensating wartime forced labor victims and Tokyo’s export restrictions.
Despite the strained ties, the two sides shared the need to resume economic and other essential exchanges so as to minimize the fallout from the pandemic.
South Korea has been active in seeking to establish the expedited entry programs for businesspeople with foreign countries and has so far clinched such agreements with China, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Singapore.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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