Date set for Australia-Japan travel bubble, but big question remains

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Scott Morrison’s ‘travel bubble’ announcement leaves Australians confused and deflated

Earlier this month, when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised the possibility of a travel bubble with Japan and South Korea, the news was met with a mixture of approval and skepticism. On the one hand, the prospect of a trip to Japan would be a relief for Japanese traders and a joy for skiers who could finally return to their favorite resorts. On the other hand, this was not the first time this possibility had been raised, nor had there been any public comments from Japan indicating a mutual intention to shake things up.

On Monday, Morrison confirmed that fully vaccinated Japanese and South Korean citizens will be allowed to enter Australia from December 1, an arrangement that “will fit the travel bubble currently in place with Singapore”, according to a post on the page. Prime Minister’s Facebook.

But the news has left people scratching their heads, with no apparent confirmation that reciprocal rights will be offered to Australian travellers, as has been the case with the Singapore travel bubble.

Without further clarification from the Prime Minister’s Office (you can read its press release here) and very little reported from Japan, one can only assume at this point that the “bubble” that many Australians hoped would grant them entry into Japan is, in fact, a unilateral arrangement and not a bubble at all.

In an article published by the Australian Financial ReviewJapan’s Ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, noted that the arrangement was appreciated by Tokyo as a gesture of goodwill and that Australia’s decision would “hopefully expedite consideration on the part of [Japanese] authorities”.

Twitter users expressed their confusion:

We hope that more information about the arrangement will surface in the coming days and that there will be positive news for Australian skiers. In the meantime, all hopes of a bubble have well and truly been deflated.

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