Interesting: Japan Will Restrict Travel From China

Interesting: Japan Will Restrict Travel From China

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China recently announced that it will be radically changing its approach toward the coronavirus pandemic. As of January 2023, the country will eliminate the quarantine requirement for international travelers, meaning that China’s population of 1.4 billion people will be free to travel globally (it remains to be seen to what extent travel to China will be allowed, given that the country has suspended issuing most types of visas).

While we’re reaching a point where pandemic travel restrictions have largely been lifted, could we see a reversal of that trend, at least toward China?

Japan tightens border restrictions for travelers from China

While Japan has opened to tourists on a widespread basis with fairly limited restrictions, we’re soon going to see some new restrictions added. As of December 30, 2022, Japan will be imposing the following rules on travelers from China:

  • All travelers from China (including Japanese citizens, returning foreign nationals living in Japan, and anyone who has been in China in the past seven days) will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Japan
  • Those who test positive for coronavirus will have to quarantine at a designated facility for up to seven days; if they’re asymptomatic, they’ll be able to test after five days, and if negative, they can end the quarantine early
  • The number of flights from China will be limited, to guard against a sudden increase in coronavirus infections in Japan
  • All flights from China will need to operate to one of four Japanese airports — Tokyo Narita (NRT), Tokyo Haneda (HND), Kansai International (KIX), and Chubu Nagoya (NGO)

According to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida:

“It is difficult to grasp the situation in China because the information on infections differs between the central and regional governments, as well as between the government and the private sector. People in Japan are getting worried because of that.”

These measures are allegedly temporary, and the government will do its best to restrict travel as little as possible. China has historically been Japan’s single largest international tourism market, and in 2019 Chinese travelers accounted for 37% of the tourism spending in Japan.

Japan will restrict travel from China

Will other countries follow Japan’s lead?

This is an interesting move on Japan’s part, and I’m curious to see if other countries take a similar approach. I’m not sure exactly what to think here.

On the one hand, China’s borders have very much been closed for nearly three years now. The country uses vaccines that aren’t terribly effective, and the population has very low immunity. Now that China is taking a “let it rip” approach, the country will likely see an outbreak like we’ve never seen before, especially with how contagious the omicron variant is.

Furthermore, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the epidemiological situation in China. The government hasn’t exactly been transparent about the reality of the pandemic, so I can appreciate how other countries might be skeptical.

On the other hand, I think we’ve largely learned that mild travel restrictions don’t do a lot to stop the spread of coronavirus. It’s one thing if you’re willing to totally close your borders, and even then it only works for so long. But one has to wonder what the point is of only somewhat restricting travel.

Now, it’s believed that China’s main coronavirus outbreak is an offshoot of existing strains of the omicron variant, which is highly contagious, but not as deadly as some past variants that we’ve seen. At least that’s what we believe, though who knows what the reality is.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see other countries follow in Japan’s footsteps here, though I certainly could be wrong.

Japan will restrict flights from China

Bottom line

China will reopen its borders as of January 2023, allowing travel without quarantine for the first time in around three years. This will have major implications on global travel, as the world’s single largest population will have the opportunity to travel once again.

Japan will soon be restricting travel from China, requiring testing upon arrival, and then a quarantine in a facility in the event that people test positive. I’m curious if other countries introduce similar policies.

What do you make of Japan restricting travel from China? Do you think other countries will follow?

Conversations (41)
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  1. Levin Guest

    Actually, Japan isn't exactly restricting entry from China, but rather, it is focusing all of the international traffic to Tokyo, Osaka in general. Pre COVID, China's airlines in desperate attempt to serve Japan, would practically make all of Japan's 32 airports international airports that are just not designed for international traffic.

    We will see Narita and to a lesser extent, Kansai benefit from this, as Narita passenger numbers are due to shoot up closer to...

    Actually, Japan isn't exactly restricting entry from China, but rather, it is focusing all of the international traffic to Tokyo, Osaka in general. Pre COVID, China's airlines in desperate attempt to serve Japan, would practically make all of Japan's 32 airports international airports that are just not designed for international traffic.

    We will see Narita and to a lesser extent, Kansai benefit from this, as Narita passenger numbers are due to shoot up closer to Haneda's.

  2. DCharlie Guest

    Good move by Japan. Let the surge in China diminish. All Chinese nationals and a fraction of foreign travellers will undergo mandatory testing upon arrival by various governments. I believe Japan and India are the swiftest in these rules. Not surprising since the mRNA and sinovacs are less effective against evolving strains, in contrast to the AstraZeneca/Oxford/Covishield/Covax and other similar vaccines.

  3. Stefan Guest

    Good Action. China should be blacklisted by all countries. They caused the whole mess in 2020 and will do so again if you give them free reign.

  4. Alan Diamond

    "The country uses vaccines that aren’t terribly effective"
    You must be kidding; the mRNA vaccines are essentially not effective and have done absolutely nothing to control the pandemic.
    I have Chinese friends who have recently gotten infected and make the same claims as those in the west that their symptoms are minor because they have been vaccinated.

    1. iamhere Guest

      Very true and at least the Chinese vaccines is made with known technology. Many people will not take the mRNA because it is new technology. We have to remember that a vaccine will not keep you from getting sick but will lower the side effects or how sick you get.

    2. Watson Gold

      Alan, take your anti-science BS to another site. The vaccines (mRNA included) worked great at preventing infection from earlier forms of the disease (alpha - delta), and currently work great at preventing severe illness from omicron and its descendents. They are estimated to have saved about a million lives in the US alone.

      The Chinese vaccines are less effective, but still somewhat effective, at reducing severe illness. China's big problem right now is that they...

      Alan, take your anti-science BS to another site. The vaccines (mRNA included) worked great at preventing infection from earlier forms of the disease (alpha - delta), and currently work great at preventing severe illness from omicron and its descendents. They are estimated to have saved about a million lives in the US alone.

      The Chinese vaccines are less effective, but still somewhat effective, at reducing severe illness. China's big problem right now is that they have ~0 population immunity beyond vaccination, so even a 1% chance of hospitalization is going to result in millions hospitalized.

  5. iamhere Guest

    Other countries have already announced similar restrictions.

  6. Eric Guest

    Are you going to travel to Japan when this restriction is still valid Ben? Sounds like Japan is one of the "Places that have any travel restrictions related to the pandemic in place"

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      Wherever there is a soulless corporate hotel with points rooms available, Ben will be there.

  7. Hobbs Guest

    I’d be more concerned about Chinese asylum seekers.

  8. Jake Sully Guest

    If restrictions and lockdowns do nothing to stop the spread of pandemics, then why is China seeing a surge of Covid right now?

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      Three things:

      1) China's domestic restrictions may have suppressed its own domestic epidemic, but did nothing to affect the progression of the global pandemic.
      2) Any effect of restrictions is temporary, and must always be "paid back" later. The only thing that sustainably stops epidemics or pandemics is immunity.

  9. Bagoly Guest

    Good that the PM correctly called China out for not being honest about numbers.

    The chance of a new more deadly strain may be quite low, but if it is going to happen it is most likely in China in the next few months, and there won't be any advance warning to other countries.

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      Even if a deadly new strain emerged in China (which is not going to happen, by the way—viruses always evolve to become more transmissible but less deadly), travel restrictions will not stop it. This is pure political posturing toward the hawkish, reactionary LDP base.

    2. Venu Guest

      I agree with you on the virus evolution. However, the Chinese government does deserve a bit of payback. All the chest thumping by their leadership about their handling of the pandemic was disgusting to witness.

    3. Robert Schrader Guest

      The Chinese government may deserve payback, but haven't Chinese citizens been through enough?

    4. Watson Gold

      Viruses evolve to become more transmissible. That _can_ be because they're less deadly, but doesn't have to be. It could instead be a longer infectious asymptomatic period, for example.

  10. Scooter Guest

    Does anyone know if this applies to flights from Taiwan as well?

    1. Adrian Guest

      No just China, Hong Kong and Macau

  11. BK Guest

    Fair enough. We all know what happened last time the CCP let a virus spread unchecked in its borders. Shut down the world. Well Done Japan.

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      Western leaders made the (terrible, history-upending) decision to follow China into inhumane, unscientific lockdowns. Nothing about the SARS-CoV-2, which has always been mild in the vast majority of people, dictated such a disruptive, unprecedented response.

    2. Carl Guest

      I'd disagree that Japanese border lockdown is a bad idea. And I agree that the lockdown globally back in 2020 was right but done too late. Chinese government should have done it as early as December 2019 and they hide the truth till February. That's the natural habit of all communist parties, just like How USSR hide their nuclear meltdown in Ukraine in the 80s as well.

      The early strains back in 2020 was...

      I'd disagree that Japanese border lockdown is a bad idea. And I agree that the lockdown globally back in 2020 was right but done too late. Chinese government should have done it as early as December 2019 and they hide the truth till February. That's the natural habit of all communist parties, just like How USSR hide their nuclear meltdown in Ukraine in the 80s as well.

      The early strains back in 2020 was super deadly though not as contagious as Omnicron. Border lockdown was to win sufficient time for governments to allocate medical resources in prep for the waves.

      I'm from mainland China and my source of information told me that the current situation in China is a severe shortage of health supplies and doctors, mainly on basic medicines such as painkiller (Ibuprofen) and advanced ones such as Paxlovid (blackmarket quote: CNY15,000 / $2200 per supply). The most susceptible population are elder citizens, particularly age group 75 and beyond. The government was surely not prepared that the virus infection spread so fast overnight. It is estimated at least 25% of the entire Chinese population (or 450 million people...) have already been infected but you won't find this number from the regional or central government.

      Many of my friends are looking for Paxlovid from overseas for their grandparents and family members as it is believed to be effective in preventing severe symptoms among elder citizens. Younger people are struggling with buying painkillers. Beijing is a mess right now. This wave, plus expectedly another two to three waves, will hit the rest of China in the next two to three weeks (before the Chinese New Year in about 4 weeks).

      It is hard to say if the variant circulating in China is only Omnicron or a portion of Delta, or a combination or both, or something else. It seems most people, 90% of them, are getting high fever above 102 F degrees (39 Celsius), extremely headache and body ache. It would be wise to implement prevent measure because we know what is going on.

      The government and central health official likely underestimated the variant and believed the virus should be as mild as the rest of the world. But because the population was pretty much in lockdown for the entire year of 2022 (and as early as November 2021), the virus did not really circulate much but stayed static. The strain did not mutate and its poison level did not change. So Delta or even earlier strains could still exist in people's bodies.

      Anyways, it is a mess.

    3. Robert Schrader Guest

      It's a mess because paranoid, irrational people like you default to authoritarianism when you're scared of something.

  12. pm Guest

    It’s a reasonable idea. Quite likely that Southeast Asia travel destinations like Thailand & Malaysia will impose some sort of restrictions on people arriving from China over the next few months.

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      It is wholly unreasonable. It's nearly 2023 and the pandemic has been over for months, the domestic Chinese epidemic notwithstanding. Imposing additional travel restrictions will do nothing to slow the continue worldwide spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is now a permanent part of the human family of diseases. It will, however, set a dangerous precedent for the future of free movement, and delay the recovery of mentally ill people who are still afraid to leave their...

      It is wholly unreasonable. It's nearly 2023 and the pandemic has been over for months, the domestic Chinese epidemic notwithstanding. Imposing additional travel restrictions will do nothing to slow the continue worldwide spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is now a permanent part of the human family of diseases. It will, however, set a dangerous precedent for the future of free movement, and delay the recovery of mentally ill people who are still afraid to leave their homes, who want permanent mask mandates and lockdowns and who believe that something called "long covid" exists.

    2. Mark Guest

      Robert, you seem worked up enough to have typed fully 1/3 of the comments so far. But you can’t type away facts. There are hundreds of thousands of new cases of Covid every week, and the pandemic is not over. People who continue to take precautions are not “mentally ill.” Covid is far less of a life-threatening disease than it was in 2020, and most people don’t want to return to the lockdowns of that...

      Robert, you seem worked up enough to have typed fully 1/3 of the comments so far. But you can’t type away facts. There are hundreds of thousands of new cases of Covid every week, and the pandemic is not over. People who continue to take precautions are not “mentally ill.” Covid is far less of a life-threatening disease than it was in 2020, and most people don’t want to return to the lockdowns of that year. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s gone away, or isn’t a health concern for all. Long Covid is most definitely for real. Just because you don’t want this, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  13. Robert Schrader Guest

    Travel restrictions do not stop or slow the spread of pandemics. I'm shocked how many people—and how many national leaders, Kishida-san and others—seem not to have grasped this. Y'all are still hooked on phonics after almost three years!

    This sets a very dangerous precedent.

    1. Alan Diamond

      I live in Mexico and I believe we were the only country in the world to never implement an entry restriction - no health forms, no vaccines, no tests, no country specific restrictions. Absolutely zero.
      Yet the covid statistics are not vastly different than anywhere else in the world.
      Unfortunately the same cannot be said about restrictions in-country. The state where I live just implemented mask mandates for indoors again, using the argument...

      I live in Mexico and I believe we were the only country in the world to never implement an entry restriction - no health forms, no vaccines, no tests, no country specific restrictions. Absolutely zero.
      Yet the covid statistics are not vastly different than anywhere else in the world.
      Unfortunately the same cannot be said about restrictions in-country. The state where I live just implemented mask mandates for indoors again, using the argument that it would prevent respiratory viruses in general, not just covid. You would have thought they would have learned from their lack of entry restrictions that all of these control measures have been pointless.

  14. D3kingg Guest

    Interesting thumbnail photo ; gives the illusion that the China Southern plane has an Emirates tail.

  15. Ray Guest

    Interesting. I'll be paying close attention to see if Singapore and/or Israel revised their guidelines for travellers flying in from China. In the meantime, I'm happy to just schedule another booster shot.

  16. Creditcrunch Diamond

    After the initial wave of covid in China they really haven’t had any of the other major waves of circulating strains that other countries experienced, I suspect Japan is concerned that a new strain may evolve quite quickly with Chinese national’s circulating globally, and they want to monitor the situation as best they can, it’s not a preventative measure more like a reporting mechanism.

    1. Max Guest

      Indeed, and restricting access in this way also helps to slow down the Covid wave that is certain to emanate from China - because vaccines do not prevent transmission (they're no shield) but help the immune system fight off infections (think reinforcements) - thus loads could get sick again. It is therefore prudent to "apply the breaks" until a clearer picture emergeces of what China has in store for us.

      I hope other countries will follow.

    2. Robert Schrader Guest

      It's amazing how many people who read travel blogs are A) Totally ignorant as to the decades of evidence that travel restrictions do not slow the spread of pandemics and B) complete authoritarians who do not at all value the freedom of movement.

    3. Nelson Gold

      Robert, I'm more for the freedom to live!

  17. Nelson Gold

    I hope you're not wrong! Every country should do the same as Japan!

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      No, no country should institute any covid-related travel restrictions ever again. Those still in place should be dismantled. We should not be stuck in a 2020 mindset as 2023 beckons. The pandemic is over, and has been over for months. It's past time to move on.

    2. Alonzo Diamond

      Finally, someone with some common sense. He's right. Time to move on. It's almost 2023 and we're still talking about this nonsense. Restricting borders? Are you people freaking insane?

    3. Mantis Guest

      More likely it's just so they don't get overwhelmed by a marauding horde of mainland Chinese tourists. They are the worst, and japanese aren't known for being the most pro foreigner.

    4. Thomas Guest

      I have been traveling to Japan since 1978, and as an American, I cannot disagree with you more about the Japanese not being pro foreigner, at least not to me. I travelled to Japan for business and always thought that I was being treated like a king because I was the customer. But after retirement, when I was in Japan as a tourist. also in areas that many Americans do not visit, I learned that...

      I have been traveling to Japan since 1978, and as an American, I cannot disagree with you more about the Japanese not being pro foreigner, at least not to me. I travelled to Japan for business and always thought that I was being treated like a king because I was the customer. But after retirement, when I was in Japan as a tourist. also in areas that many Americans do not visit, I learned that they treat everyone that way. Kind of reminds me of the US in the 50's. I do agree with you about the Chinese tourists being the worst. I have experienced this in both China, Hong Kong, Europe and New York. Push Push Push. In their defense, many have not had the opportunity to travel outside of their region much less outside of China, and that so they do not know how to act.

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Max Guest

Indeed, and restricting access in this way also helps to slow down the Covid wave that is certain to emanate from China - because vaccines do not prevent transmission (they're no shield) but help the immune system fight off infections (think reinforcements) - thus loads could get sick again. It is therefore prudent to "apply the breaks" until a clearer picture emergeces of what China has in store for us. I hope other countries will follow.

3
Creditcrunch Diamond

After the initial wave of covid in China they really haven’t had any of the other major waves of circulating strains that other countries experienced, I suspect Japan is concerned that a new strain may evolve quite quickly with Chinese national’s circulating globally, and they want to monitor the situation as best they can, it’s not a preventative measure more like a reporting mechanism.

3
Nelson Gold

I hope you're not wrong! Every country should do the same as Japan!

3
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