China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning on Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyos tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China.
The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassys website. China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on January 10 in apparent retaliation for Tokyos requirement of additional tests for Chinese tourists in late December, ahead of Lunar New Year holidays. Japan cited soaring infections in China after it abruptly eased coronavirus restrictions as well as scarce COVID-19 data from Beijing. Japan reopened its borders for individual tourists in October, allowing travellers with proof of vaccination instead of testing at airports unless they show symptoms. Burt on December 30, Japan required all travelers from China to show pre-departure negative tests and take an additional test upon arrival. China also stopped issuing visas to South Koreans after South Korea in early January did the same for short-term travelers from China. Last Friday, South Korea said it would keep the measure in place through the end of February over concerns that the spread of COVID-19 in China may worsen following Lunar New Year travel. Health authorities in China have said infections have peaked but there are concerns abroad that Beijing was not sharing enough data. The latest wave of infections in Japan appears to be subsiding in recent weeks, with confirmed daily cases falling to about one-fifth of the peak in early January.
Japans government last week announced plans to downgrade COVID-19 to an equivalent of seasonal influenza in May, a move that would further relax mask wearing and other preventive measures as the country seeks to return to normalcy.
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