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Japan Includes Hawai‘i on List of 12 Approved Safe Travel Destinations

July 27, 2020, 3:08 PM HST
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Gov. David Ige

Japan included Hawai‘i on its list of 12 global destinations to resume safe international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Gov. David Ige and House Speaker Scott Saiki expressed their gratitude to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi for Hawai‘i being included on this exclusive list.

“On behalf of the State of Hawai‘i, we are honored that Prime Minister Abe and Japan’s policymakers are considering Hawai‘i for resuming safe and responsible international travel,” Ige said. “Japan and Hawai‘i enjoy longstanding cultural ties and a deep-rooted friendship that has enriched the lives of many generations. It’s important that we restore travel between Japan and Hawai‘i and we see this program as a way to make this possible, while also preventing the further spread of infections from COVID-19.”

While a 14-day quarantine remains in place for transpacific travelers until at least Aug. 31, Gov. David Ige hopes is to create a Japan-Hawaii safe travel program through pre-travel testing. Ige noted that details for the Japan-Hawai‘i safe travel program are still being resolved and no timetable has been set for when it would take effect.

The governor stressed that public health will be the overriding factor in determining how the program is carried out to support the state’s economic recovery and the tens of thousands of residents who depend on the travel industry for their livelihoods.

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“Providing safe travel for both residents and visitors is vital to strengthening our state’s economic health and long-term recovery. Protecting the public’s health will always be our first priority and the foundation for which any economic recovery program is built upon, including trans-Pacific travel,” said Ige.

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Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Motegi announced that international travel between Japan and the 12 destinations will be tightly regulated to protect the health and safety of travelers and prevent the spread of infections caused by COVID-19. Among the safety requirements of the new program will be pre-travel testing for COVID-19, proof of a negative PCR test result, and an examination of travelers upon entry to Japan.

Hawai‘i is the only destination in the United States being considered for Japan’s resumption of international travel. Other destinations that Japan has begun discussions with include China, South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries.

Saiki was instrumental in Hawai‘i being included on Japan’s list of travel destinations through his discussions with Japan’s top policymakers as the chair of the Japan Hawai‘i Legislators Friendship Association. The association provides a forum for legislative-level interactions between Japan and Hawai‘i lawmakers to share information and initiatives to strengthen relationships, policies and economic opportunities.

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“We are thankful for this expression of confidence by Japan for the eventual renewal of travel with Hawai‘i,” Saiki said. It’s just as important for Hawai‘i residents to be able to travel again to Japan to connect with family members, conduct business, and experience historic cultural sites, as it is for us to welcome the people of Japan back to Hawai‘i.”

Similar to Japan, Saiki added, that a lot of work has been accomplished to make Hawai‘i as safe as possible from the spread of the coronavirus since international travel was suspended in March.

“We are getting closer to the point where travel between Japan and Hawai‘i can be restarted while staying focused on protecting people’s health,” the house speaker said. “When that occurs, it will be a big step forward to reviving a segment that is important to the overall economic health of Hawai‘i and its people.”

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