Australia-Japan travel bubble: Scott Morrison will discuss today in Tokyo

A possible travel bubble with Japan should be on the agenda when Scott Morrison visits Tokyo, but we shouldn’t hope.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to discuss the possibility of travel without a quarantine between Australia and Japan during his visit to Tokyo, but Australians should not be too excited about it happening anytime soon.

Mr Morrison will meet with new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga upon his arrival in Tokyo this morning for his first international trip since the COVID-19 pandemic.

While talks about defense, maritime safety and Australia’s hydrogen exports are expected to feature high on the agenda, the subject of a travel bubble between the two countries is likely to be raised.

However, with fears over the third wave of infections in Japan and uncertainty as to when Australia’s hard international border will soften, a firm decision is unlikely to be made during this visit.

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Japan confirmed 1,440 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday amid a record number of infections nationwide which local doctors said reported a third wave of the virus.

The northern island of Hokkaido, which is one of the regions experiencing a wave of infections, has instituted a new curfew for bars and food outlets in the capital, Sapporo.

Japan has recorded 119,555 coronavirus cases and 1,880 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

But as it has managed to avoid the larger scale of infections and deaths seen in other countries, Japan has been reported as one of the first international destinations Australia could return to, along with New Zealand. , Singapore and the Pacific countries.

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In July, Mr Morrison said that while international travel had “no imminent start date,” he was optimistic it would reopen in Japan in the near future.

“It’s a matter of interest in terms of how we can re-engage with the rest of the world but… be very patient about it,” he said after a National Cabinet meeting on July 10.

“It’s nice to know that Japan would see Australia as a potential place where there might be opportunities to reopen some very, very restricted and limited forms of travel.”

Mr Morrison will be the first world leader to meet the new Japanese prime minister in person and is expected to sign a new defense pact with Mr Suga tonight.

He flew to Tokyo from Melbourne overnight and will spend 14 days in isolation at the Canberra Lodge upon his return to Australia on Wednesday.

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