China to halt short-term visa waivers for Japanese nationals

A passenger arriving at Narita airport, in Japan's Chiba prefecture, on March 9, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - China will temporarily suspend visa waivers for Japanese nationals intending to stay 15 days or fewer in the country from March 10 amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Embassy of Japan in China said on Monday (March 9) in a statement on its website.

The visa waivers will remain available for Japanese travelling to China on business or to visit relatives. They will be halted for those going to China for sightseeing, visiting friends or transit purposes, the statement said.

The move by China comes after Japan announced last week that it will impose tighter travel restrictions on visitors from China and South Korea.

Starting on Monday, people arriving from China and South Korea will be quarantined for two weeks at designated sites. Japanese nationals will also be subject to the measures, chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference last Friday.

"The decision was the result of a comprehensive review of the information available about the situation in other countries and the effects of other measures," Mr Suga said at a news conference. "I think the timing is appropriate."

The new measures, announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, came after weeks of criticism that he was failing to tackle the outbreak head-on and coincided with the country's biggest one-day increase in new infections.

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