TOKYO (Xinhua): Japan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday (Oct 6) that business travel will resume between Japan and South Korea on Thursday after flights were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Currently, the Japan-South Korea relationship is in an extremely severe situation so exchanges of people from both countries, starting with business people, are important,” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press briefing.

The two countries are at odds over a number of wartime-related law suits brought in South Korea against Japanese firms for forced use of Korean labor during Japan’s brutal wartime occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

Under the agreement on the resumption of bilateral travel, travellers on short-term business trips will not be required to self-isolate if they test negative for Covid-19 and submit travel itineraries to the appropriate authorities.

Expatriates and long-term residents, meanwhile, will have to self-quarantine for 14-days under the agreement.

The deal, in essence, is similar to one struck recently between Japan and Singapore.

The planned move between Tokyo and Seoul came after Japan eased entry restrictions into the country for foreigners on Oct 1, although entry is still being refused for tourists.

Those such as foreign medical professionals, teachers and others who are qualified for medium or long-term stays for three months or longer will be allowed entry, the government said, with those traveling for business purposes for less than three months also being eligible.

Currently, people from 159 countries and regions are denied entry to the country, but Japan has steadily been easing its entry restrictions.

Foreigners with Japanese resident status who had been overseas have recently been allowed to re-enter the county, while expatriates and other long-term residents from some Asian countries have also been granted access into the country.

These include those from Vietnam, Thailand and seven other economies with which reciprocal agreements have been made.

The government has, more recently, made similar reciprocal agreements with Singapore and Brunei.

Around 5.58 million South Koreans visited Japan in 2019, the second largest following around 9.59 million from China, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

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