Japanese Visitors to Macau Face Restrictions

February 13, 2023
Macau Face Restrictions

China has recently imposed restrictions on Japanese tourists. The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo announced the move on January 10th, shortly after threatening to retaliate against countries that further restricted Chinese entry. The Chinese Embassy in Seoul made the same announcement at the same time, subjecting visitors from South Korea to the same outcome.

The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo announced the change on its website, stating that standard visas for Japanese citizens have been suspended.

It went on to state that no date has been set for when visa issuance will resume, and that more information would be provided later. The embassy was adamant that the visa suspension would continue until the entry restrictions imposed on China were lifted.

Japan’s Role in the Situation

Japan instigated the punitive move on January 9th, when it announced that people flying in from Macau would be required to provide a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test. The Japanese government tightened border controls in preparation for an increase in visitors from mainland China to Japan via Macau during the Lunar New Year holiday, which began on January 22nd.

The administration saw adding Macau to the list of visitors requiring negative tests as a necessary precaution, given that China is facing a possible countrywide spike in COVID-19 cases after relaxing internal restrictions. Previously, Japan allowed direct flights from Macau, and visitors from the People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region did not have to undergo a PCR-RT test like the rest of China.

Visitors from China are now required under the new rule to submit a certificate of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before leaving Macau. Entry restrictions for Macau residents into Japan did not sit well with the Chinese government, prompting the recent retaliation.

China’s Response

The Chinese government’s response stems from recent efforts to revitalize the Chinese economy and mitigate the social consequences of lockdowns. China lifted several major aspects of its strict zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy and opened its borders toward the end of 2022. The COVID-19 policy had aided China’s goal of combating COVID-19 by keeping the number of cases low.

The lockdown measures had shrunk the country’s economy by interfering with its global supply chains. This effect, combined with a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases, prompted China to relax policy and open the country up to international trade.

China is offended that some countries are imposing discriminatory entry restrictions on Chinese visitors, despite the fact that COVID-19 cases have decreased significantly and China has reopened its borders to visitors from other countries. Beijing is especially enraged that Japan has tightened restrictions on the strategically located Macau.

The People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region is one of the most vibrant gaming destinations, and it can significantly help China stimulate its economy.

As there are no casinos in Japan, those who want to gamble must either travel to neighboring countries with casinos or play at online casinos. Macau offers a one-of-a-kind combination of breathtaking scenery, luxurious casinos, and easy access from Japan.

Ineffective Countermeasures

Tightening travel restrictions for Macau visitors is akin to putting the city’s revitalization on hold. The movement of Japanese gamblers and revelers to and from Macau is essential to the city’s survival.

However, with China’s decision to reciprocate the travel restrictions, Macau faces an even greater threat. Prior to the blockade, Japanese visitors could freely visit Macau. However, as a result of the restrictions, Japanese visitors are no longer permitted to visit Macau, depriving the administrative region of the potential benefits of Japanese tourists. Japanese visitors to Macau will miss out on the fun, but Macau will also suffer economically.

China is going through a difficult period because several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, have tightened their border controls for people traveling from China. Despite the enormous success in bringing the numbers down, China claims that these actions only serve to further the stigma that it has been subject to ever since the pandemic began.

However, it still stands to benefit from its decision to weaken the COVID-19 policy because it has opened the door to numerous other opportunities. Some countries, including Singapore and Vietnam, have lifted COVID-19-related restrictions to allow Chinese visitors easier access and increase flight capacity.


In response to Japan’s increased border control measures imposed to mitigate the anticipated influx of visitors from mainland China, the Chinese government quickly took action to limit Japanese tourists. This has far-reaching consequences for China-Japan relations and the global economy, especially for Japanese gamblers who favor Macau’s casinos but must now look for alternative options. With China’s successful containment of COVID-19, it is possible that the stalemate between these two countries will soon come to an end.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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