South Korea riled by Japan's virus quarantine rules

  • Japan
  • Friday, 06 Mar 2020

South Koreans evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic in China, disembark from a chartered flight at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea on Jan 31, 2020, South Korea now records one of the largest number of infections outside China. - AP

SEOUL (AFP): Seoul will summon Japan's ambassador to protest over 'irrational' plans to impose coronavirus quarantine on arrivals from South Korea, it said Friday (March 6), accusing Tokyo of ulterior motives.

The two countries have close economic ties and are both major US allies, democracies and market economies faced with a rising China and nuclear-armed North Korea.

But their relationship continues to be heavily affected by Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 -- a dispute that escalated into a trade and security row last year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday announced that foreign arrivals who have recently been in China or South Korea would be required to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Seoul's foreign ministry urged Tokyo to reconsider the 'irrational and overbearing' measure in a statement, saying it would summon the ambassador to protest.

"We can't help but question whether Japan has other motives than containing the outbreak," it added.

Seoul could take countermeasures, it signalled, saying it was exploring "all possible options" to ensure the safety of South Koreans.

South Korea's total reported infections -- the largest figure outside China, where the virus first emerged -- rose to 6,284 on Friday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It announced seven more deaths, taking the toll to 42.

Japan has reported 360 confirmed cases and six deaths from the illness.

Around 40 countries and regions have imposed entry bans on foreigners who have recently been in the South, while more than 20 require quarantine, as do several parts of China.

Japan's quarantine announcement was already affecting "thousands of South Koreans", said Park Chul-hyun, a media columnist based in Tokyo, who cancelled a three-day trip to Seoul for fear of having to go into quarantine on his return.

"There are thousands of South Koreans arriving in Tokyo on a daily basis and I bet a majority of them have called off their trips," said Park, criticising the measure as a "pure performance" ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. - AFP

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Japan , south korea , covid-19 , quarantine


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