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Politics

Japan plans to set up virus testing center for travelers: Abe

Talks start with Thailand, Vietnam, Australia to resume business trips

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at the close of the Diet session in Tokyo on June 18. (Photo by Uichioro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday the government was considering setting up a new coronavirus testing facility dedicated to overseas travelers, as he stressed the need to reopen borders to business and trade.

"The present state of 'isolation' has an enormous impact at a time of globalization, especially on a country like Japan that depends on international trade," said Abe at a news conference held at the end of the Diet session. "We have decided to open borders first to business travelers from countries that have contained the virus."

The idea of establishing a new polymerase chain reaction testing center for international travelers came up as "testing capacity needs to be expanded," Abe said.

Under the new regime, a traveler will first need to provide proof of a negative test before departure and take another test upon arrival. Japan is now in talks with Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand to open up to business travelers.

When asked if borders would also be opened to arrivals from China, South Korea and the U.S., Abe said he would continue to look for opportunities for talks with these countries, depending on infections within and outside Japan.

Referring to the Olympic Games that were meant to be held in Tokyo this summer, Abe said he would expect to see athletes at their top performance level and for it to be safe for spectators to gather before staging the event.

"The games will be held at minimal cost and in an efficient, rational way," he said, adding that vaccines and treatments will play a significant role.

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