Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters Friday that Vietnam is one of four countries that Japan has been discussing resuming mutual visits in phases. Japan is also seeking similar bilateral arrangements with Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

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Japan and Vietnam are discussing final details such as timing of resumption, Motegi said.

Japan has imposed entry bans to 111 nations as part of coronavirus measures.

Japan lifted a seven-week pandemic emergency in late May and has started reopening social and business activities to minimize economic damage. All domestic restrictions are removed Friday and people can now start traveling anywhere in Japan, although physical distancing and other preventive measures are requested.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday aggressive virus testing is crucial to quickly finding and isolating patients as the country resumes social and economic activity safely. He said testing centers for foreign visitors are also being planned.

Motegi said Japan seeks to step up “strategic partnership” with Vietnam and further promote economic and people exchanges. Vietnam has reported only 349 cases and no deaths. Japan has 17,740 cases and 935 deaths.

Also read: Vietnam confirms seven more imported cases of COVID-19, total 349

“It is important to resume international exchanges of people partially and gradually, as we try to get the economy back on the recovery track while balancing it with the coronavirus measures,” Motegi said.

@ AP/ Time