Japan to Relax Restrictions on Arrivals from China

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Passengers from mainland China are processed at a quarantine station at Kansai Airport before they enter Japan, in Osaka Prefecture on Jan. 10.

The government plans to relax restrictions on arrivals to Japan from China starting March 1, easing its border controls against the novel coronavirus, according to government sources.

Viral checks now imposed on all travelers entering Japan via direct flights from mainland China will be conducted only on randomly selected passengers.

However, those entering Japan from mainland China will still need to submit proof of a negative viral test for the virus within 72 hours of their departure from China.

The government will also remove a restriction limiting the number of airports allowed to accept flights from China to four — namely, Narita, Haneda, Kansai and Aichi airports — and allow airlines to add flights from China to Japan.

Currently, the government requires testing on arrival for all those entering Japan aboard direct flights from Macau and those who have stayed in mainland China within the seven days prior to arrival, including those transiting through China. However, following the relaxation of restrictions, such individuals will not be subject to any on-arrival testing, including random sample tests.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, less than 1% of people entering Japan from mainland China have tested positive for the virus since late January.

Genome analyses of the novel coronavirus have not found any unknown variants, leading the government to believe that restrictions can be relaxed without causing problems.

According to an interim report by the Immigration Services Agency, January saw 21,598 Chinese nationals, excluding those from Hong Kong and some other areas, newly enter Japan.