Japan’s plan to negotiate with Taiwan over mutually easing travel limitations shows Tokyo’s confidence in Taiwan’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, but tourists returning from Japan could add pressure to the nation’s health system, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday evening announced that his nation would begin talks with 12 countries, including Taiwan, to allow entry of businesspeople.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a news release that the Japanese move shows that Tokyo recognizes Taiwan’s achievement in curbing the pandemic.
The ministry said it would start negotiations with Tokyo soon in a bid to finalize a plan as soon as possible.
Loosening of border controls would deepen Taiwan-Japan ties in economy and trade, it said.
Taiwan is looking forward to enhanced cooperation with Japan in areas such as healthcare, the exchange of disease information and professionals, and the development of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs to help curb the pandemic, it said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Chen, who also heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said that while travel deregulation would be positive, it could bring “a different kind of pressure” to Taiwan’s disease-prevention work.
The main responsibility of the CECC is to prevent the domestic transmission of the virus, so if Taiwanese business travelers were allowed to visit Japan, they would still be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon returning home, he said.
At a news briefing on Wednesday, Chen said that confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising in Japan, but the increase has not exceeded the center’s threshold for what it classifies as medium-risk countries.
Separately yesterday, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chief Representative Hiroyasu Izumi met at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
Lai thanked the Japanese government for supporting Taiwan’s bid to join the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO.
Collaboration is necessary amid global uncertainties and natural disasters, Lai said, adding that he looked forward to deepening ties with Tokyo.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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