Japan travel ban to contain virus unfair, Western companies say

TOKYO (Reuters) – Four Western business lobbies have joined in protesting Japan’s travel ban to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, saying the policy is out of step with measures taken in other major economies and will hurt investments.

Many countries have imposed travel restrictions to fight the pandemic, but Japan is among the strictest, effectively barring the entry of tourists and visa holders from more than 140 countries.

“This policy is contrary to the treatment Japan receives from other G7 countries and other major countries which treat long-term foreign residents on an equal basis with citizens in health matters,” the groups said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The joint letter was signed by trade lobby groups from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe. The American and European groups had already made complaints about this policy.

Japan allows its citizens to re-enter the country if they take a coronavirus test at the port of entry and observe a period of self-quarantine. Foreigners living in Japan face much higher barriers to return.

These measures “can only discourage foreign nationals, and the companies they work for, from investing in Japan,” the business groups said.

Japan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government announced last month that it would begin “incremental measures” to restore travel based on infection conditions, starting with 12 Asian countries.

Restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the virus devastated the Japanese economy, which recorded its largest contraction on record in the second quarter.

Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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