This graphic image, provided by Seoul’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday, shows a map of Japan marked in yellow to indicate new travel warnings. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
South Korea’s foreign ministry lifted the travel alert for all parts of Japan on Saturday, amid growing concerns over the number of COVID-19 cases there.
As of Monday, Seoul advised “restraint,” which is the third tier of the country’s four-point warning system. A week ago, he advised “caution”, a warning one notch lower.
The ministry has expressed growing concerns about the continued spread of the coronavirus in Japan and how it could affect Koreans, saying the international community has expressed doubts about what it calls the “opaque” reports and the response. Japan’s “weak” to the virus.
“We advise Koreans residing in Japan to take extra precautions and citizens who are planning to visit the region to think carefully,” he said.
The ministry said it would continue to monitor the situation closely and review its alert levels accordingly.
The strongest level of alert, “recommend withdrawal”, remains in place for the Fukushima region due to the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The latest travel warning has been interpreted as a “tit-for-tat” response to Tokyo’s latest travel restrictions against people entering the country from Korea.
Korea said on Friday it was suspending its visa waiver program and invalidating all travel permits already issued to Japanese, effective Monday, in response to Japan’s decision to impose a two-week quarantine on all. Korean visitors and suspend visa-free entry for Koreans.
Korea and Japan have been hit hard by the coronavirus, which originated in China late last year. Korea had reported 6,767 confirmed cases and 45 deaths as of Saturday. Japan has seen more than 1,100 cases, including 706 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined near the capital.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)