SINGAPORE: Japan and Singapore agreed on Thursday to ease travel restrictions implemented in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic from September.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he agreed with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan that the two countries will restart mutual visits of businesspeople and expatriates from September, given they take precautionary measures.
Japan, which currently bans entry of all foreign nationals from 146 designated countries and regions in principle, said in late July it will newly enter into discussions with 12 Asian economies, including Singapore, on ways to resume travel.
The two ministers, in their first in-person meeting since November last year, also plan to discuss the current situation in the South China Sea, where China is stepping up maritime claims, and ways to thwart North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, the officials said.
They are also expected to exchange views on cooperation in responding to the pandemic, possibly touching on the importance of establishing an Asean centre for emerging diseases and public health emergencies.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed such a center for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a videoconference with leaders of the bloc, and from South Korea and China on April 14.
Motegi is scheduled to meet with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong later in the day.
On Friday, the Japanese minister will travel to Malaysia for talks with Mohamed Azmin Ali, the country’s minister of international trade and industry, and Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. After returning to Japan, Motegi will then visit Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar from Aug 20 to 25.
Motegi visited Britain for four days last week, becoming the first member of Abe’s Cabinet to travel overseas since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March.