Japan will impose Covid-19 tests on visitors from mainland China, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Tuesday in response to the upcoming end of mandatory quarantines on arrival in China.
This Tokyo measure will take effect from Friday. Visitors from China will thus be the only ones in Japan to automatically have to take a Covid test, apart from any traveler showing symptoms on arrival in Japanese territory.
There are "information that infections are spreading rapidly" in China, Mr. Kishida told the press.
And "it is difficult to establish precisely the situation (in China, editor's note) because of significant differences between the central and local authorities as well as between the government and the private sector", he continued.
"This is generating growing concern in Japan."
China announced on Monday the end of mandatory quarantines on arrival on its territory from January 8, the last vestige of its drastic measures against the Covid-19 pandemic which had been in force since 2020.
But the release of this “zero-Covid” strategy since the beginning of December has been accompanied by a worrying surge in infections in the country.
The Chinese authorities have even stopped publishing daily data on the health situation since Sunday. The official figures were increasingly criticized as their underestimation of cases of infection and deaths had become flagrant.
If they test positive upon arrival in Japan, travelers from China will be subject to a seven-day quarantine in designated facilities.
The number of flights to Japan from mainland China will also be limited, Kishida said on Tuesday.
Japan has fully reopened to foreign visitors since early October, after two and a half years of near-closing its borders due to the pandemic.
In November, 934,500 foreign visitors arrived in Japan, around 40% of the level in November 2019, before the pandemic.
In 2019, visitors from mainland China accounted for 30.1% of total foreign visitors to Japan.