Essential travel between Singapore and Japan could start in September
Talks ongoing to set up two tracks to allow essential travel
Essential travel for expatriates and businessmen between Singapore and Japan could resume next month, as both countries agree to ease restrictions currently in place to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The two countries are in talks to set up two tracks that will allow cross-border travel, said a joint release by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and his visiting Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi yesterday.
The first track, called a "residence track", will provide for a special quota of cross-border travel by work pass holders with the necessary public health safeguards - including a 14-day stay-home notice upon arrival in the respective countries.
The ministers welcomed ongoing negotiations on the setting up of this track as early as next month.
The second track is a reciprocal green lane - otherwise known as a "business track" - where short-term business travellers will be subject to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days, with the necessary public health safeguards.
The ministers agreed on major points of this track, and tasked officials to finalise the agreement by early next month.
This would make Singapore one of the first countries with which Japan will begin this exchange of business travellers.
Mr Motegi, who is here for an official visit from Aug 12 to 14, called on and was hosted to lunch by Dr Balakrishnan yesterday.
He also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.
Mr Lee noted that Mr Motegi is his first foreign visitor since the pandemic led to entry restrictions and border closures, and they had a good discussion on how both sides can do more together.
"We are proceeding cautiously, as Covid-19 is still very much a threat.
"But this will be an important step forward in restoring connectivity between countries, and adjusting to life with Covid-19," said Mr Lee.
Mr Motegi leaves for Malaysia today.
He is also due to visit Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar from Aug 20 to 25.
The Straits Times understands that Mr Motegi has to take a Covid-19 test before leaving and returning to Japan as a countermeasure against the disease.
His entourage is also kept to a bare minimum, and he travels by chartered plane.