Japan to invalidate 2.8 million visas to Chinese in the middle of COVID-19 fears

stock photo man on train face mask

Stock image: Man wearing face mask on a train

Japan will temporarily void 2.8 million visas given to Chinese nationals and 17,000 given to South Koreans to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in the country, the Foreign Ministry said Friday via a report from ABS-CBN News.

The move is part of steps being taken regarding COVID-19 fears that was announced a day prior by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in the middle of a barrage of criticism for his belated response to the outbreak, to toughen border controls and restrict travel from the neighboring countries.

China and South Korea reacted very differently about this. China accepted Japan’s new restrictions as appropriate to safeguard public health while South Korea denounced the move and pledged to take similar steps in retaliation.

The said visas will become invalid from Monday through March 31, with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi saying what happens past that point will depend on whether the coronavirus situation improves or worsens, according to Kyodo News. Voiding of visas includes those issued to citizens from Hong Kong and Macau.

Chinese and South Korean nationals who are already in Japan will not have their periods of stay shortened or terminated, but if they leave the country they will not be able to re-enter using the same visas while the temporary nullification is in place.

Japan will ask all travelers from China and South Korea to remain quarantined in government-designated facilities for two weeks. This will be enforced until the end of March,

Health minister Katsunobu Kato said foreign nationals traveling from the two countries will likely be requested to stay in hotels, while Japanese nationals will be asked to stay at home.

During the quarantine period, accommodation and transportation fees need to be paid out of pocket in principle, the health ministry said, providing a strong deterrent to would-be visitors.

Japan will also suspend a visa-waiver program covering short stays by tourists from South Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau.

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