Singapore, Japan to work on 'green lane' for essential travel

Singapore and Japan have agreed to work on "green lane" arrangements to resume essential travel between both countries and have them ready by next month, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his visiting counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi said yesterd
PHOTO: MCI

Singapore and Japan have agreed to work on "green lane" arrangements to resume essential travel between both countries and have them ready by next month, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his visiting counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi said yesterday.

Both countries are working towards a special quota for cross-border travel by work pass holders, with talks ongoing to set this up as early as next month. There will also be a reciprocal green lane for short-term business travellers, and officials have been tasked with finalising an agreement by early next month.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also welcomed Mr Motegi at the Istana (above), with the Japanese foreign minister being his first overseas visitor since the coronavirus pandemic led to entry restrictions and border closures. The leaders wore face masks and were seated at least 1m apart.

Japan is one of several countries Singapore is discussing such green lanes with, and PM Lee noted that while they are proceeding cautiously, "this will be an important step forward in restoring connectivity between countries, and adjusting to life with Covid-19". 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore, Japan to work on 'green lane' for essential travel'. Print Edition | Subscribe