Japan's Foreign Ministry plans to launch a research and study project to help to create international rules on how to handle infectious disease outbreaks onboard cruise ships.
In February 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19) cluster infections were confirmed aboard Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess, a cruise ship registered in Britain and operated by a US company. After the liner entered Yokohama Port close to Tokyo, Japan's government responded to prevent the infections' spread. The government tested many people on the cruise ship, including foreign nationals, and offered treatment to those with confirmed COVID infections.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the response had shown that proper international rules had not been established to handle infectious diseases onboard cruise ships. The ministry added that currently, it was not clear which country should bear responsibility.
The ministry has come up with a plan to commence a research and study program to help the international community set rules on procedures to cope with future outbreaks.
Japan's Foreign Ministry will probably draft new rules after asking outside experts "to sort out current challenges." The ministry plans to propose the draft to the international community.
The Foreign Ministry included 40M yen (USD 378,000) for the initiative in its budget request for the next fiscal year beginning in April 2021.