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Japan eases travel warning for 36 countries and areas, including Malaysia

JAPAN has eased its travel warning for 36 countries and areas, including Malaysia, the United States, Britain, Canada and Hong Kong, over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foreign Ministry also no longer asks Japanese citizens to avoid nonessential trips to these areas.

The Kyodo News reports that the Foreign Ministry lowered its travel advisories for these countries from the third highest Level 2 on its four-point scale to Level 1, which advises Japanese nationals travelling to those regions to "stay fully alert."

Additionally, Japan also lowered its advisories for other 15 nations and areas from Level 3, which warns to avoid all travel, to Level 2. Among them are seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, six in Europe and two in Latin America.

"On the whole, the world is seeing a downward trend in the number of new infection cases and deaths, and the risk of suffering severe symptoms and deaths has been seen receding," the ministry said in a press release.

However, 109 nations and regions remained under the Level 2 warning, including 30 Asian countries such as China, South Korea and India. Thirty-five European nations, including Germany, France, and Italy, also remain at Level 2, while 41 countries remain unchanged at Level 3.

Kyodo News also reports Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saying Japan will begin accepting foreign tourists in stages starting June 10.

The move comes as the country continues to ease its Covid-19 border controls after suspending foreign arrivals for around two years.

The government will initially allow guided tourism tours as a way of reducing the potential spread of infections, and will authorise two more airports in addition to five already approved to accept international flights.

Naha and New Chitose airports in popular tourist spots of Okinawa and Hokkaido, will resume accepting international flights by the end of June.

"We will continue to assess the situation, and intend to make a step-by-step return to accepting people as in normal times," the prime minister said at an international event in Tokyo on Thursday.

The government has also decided to double the current limit on daily entries to 20,000 starting next Wednesday.

Tours will only be accepted from the "blue" list of 98 countries and regions presenting the lowest risk of infections, which includes the United States, China, Australia and South Korea.

Those coming from these countries are exempted from testing and isolation measures.

Since Tuesday, the transport and tourism ministry has been inviting travel company employees from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States for small-scale test tours of Japan.

With these tours, the ministry hopes to assess the feedback and aims to improve measures against Covid-19 and on procedures to follow in the event visitors test positive for the coronavirus.

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