Scott Morrison's "travel bubble" announcement leaves Aussies confused and deflated

Earlier this month, when Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison floated the possibility of a travel bubble with Japan and South Korea, the news was met with a mix of approval and scepticism. On the one hand, the prospect of travel to Japan would be a relief to Japanese business owners and a joy for skiers who might finally be able to get back to their favourite resorts. On the other, it was not the first time the possibility had been raised, nor had there been any public comments from Japan to indicate a mutual intent to make things happen.

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 be “matching the travel bubble currently in place with Singapore”, according to a post on the PM’s Facebook page.

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

Without any further clarification from the PM’s office (you can read his press statement here) and very little reported from Japan, one can only assume at this stage that the “bubble” many Australians hoped would grant them entry to Japan is, in fact, a unilateral arrangement and not a bubble at all.

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

Twitter users expressed their confusion:

Our hope is that more information about the arrangement will surface in the coming days and that there will be some positive news for Aussie skiers. In the meantime, all bubble hopes have been well and truly deflated.

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