A woman walks through the departures area at the international terminal at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture on April 7, 2020. (AFP/Charly Triballeau)
Japan on Thursday partially resumed international flights, with a chartered plane leaving Narita Airport near Tokyo bound for Vietnam.
The flight is the first of three arranged by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam and operated by Vietnam Airlines that will depart from Narita Airport from Thursday through Saturday.
The plane departed Japan with 150 passengers aboard, all of whom were provided with protective gowns and face masks for the flight as a measure to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
On their arrival at northern Vietnam's Van Don International Airport, the passengers will have to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the virus and then self-quarantine for two weeks.
Production at some Japanese facilities based in Vietnam have suffered due to a lack of Japanese workers.
"I am more relieved, than happy. We will now have the human resources we need to restart our operations," Sharp Manufacturing Vietnam Chairman Wada Kazuhito was quoted by local media as saying.
In total, the three flights will carry around 440 business people to Vietnam, with Japan's foreign ministry hoping to see the return of workers from Vietnam, including those on its technical trainee program, as it eyes lifting its entry ban to those from Vietnam.
Earlier this month, the government here announced it was planning to ease its coronavirus-linked travel restrictions this summer by allowing, at first, the entry of up to 250 business people per day from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
Japan currently has an entry ban in place from 111 countries and regions and foreign travelers who have visited countries on the banned list within two weeks wanting to enter Japan would be refused entry, the foreign ministry has said.
The ministry also said that 177 countries and regions have imposed varying levels of restrictions on entry from Japan.
Australia and New Zealand have reportedly said it may still be too early to allow entry of Japanese travelers amid continued concerns over the possible spread of the coronavirus.
Travelers from the permitted overseas countries would have to undergo PCR coronavirus tests before arriving in Japan to prove they are negative for COVID-19.
Upon landing in Japan, they will be required to take another PCR test, sources with knowledge of the matter have said.
Those qualifying for entry will be required to submit to officials details of their place of residence during their visit as well as an itinerary of places they intend to visit, the sources said.
They may be asked to refrain from using public transport and possibly be required to use a GPS app on their smartphones so in the case they are or do become infected, contact-tracing can be carried out.
Aside from Vietnam, Japan has also been in talks with Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as the potential first batch of travelers it reopens its doors to, although the government would like the measure to be reciprocal.
The four countries were picked owing to the fact that they have been judged to have successfully brought the coronavirus outbreak under control in their respective countries and owing to business ties between Japan and the countries.
The government here said that following its initial easing of entry restrictions for the four countries, it will look to further expand the easing of restrictions applicable to China, South Korea and the United States.
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