According to new information from the country’s prime minister, Japan will begin allowing international students, as well as non-tourists, to visit the country beginning in March.
After “increasing calls” from colleges and students to remove immigration restrictions, Fumio Kishida indicated in a news conference that there will be a gradual reopening, even though several other nations have already fully opened their borders.
“It is just the first step… we need to start preparing for the next phase, in stages,” he told reporters. “We are gradually walking toward the end of the sixth wave,” he added.
The number of persons allowed to enter Japan each day, which was also based on logic, was capped at 3,500 but has since been increased to 5,000. Stakeholders and students are still sceptical if it is sufficient.
“[This news] was a step in the right direction, but 5,000 entries per day is not nearly enough to welcome the number of re-entries, and the almost 400,000 new entries who have been waiting for as long as two years,” Davide Rossi, CEO of Go! Go! Nihon said.
A community of students awaiting re-entry into the country as a result of the ban agrees that the admittance cap is still a major concern.
“We are waiting for the details… if you consider that pre-pandemic entries were roughly 150,000 or 200,000 a day, [5,000 a day] is a very small number,” a representative said.
Many are concerned that they will “lose another semester” due to the cap since it will take too long for their turn to enter the nation. Several students must begin school in April, and there are concerns that the process will be too slow to welcome them on time.
“We are putting our hopes in Keidanren and Komeito, who are already asking the government to raise the cap,” the @StrandedOutJPN representative agreed.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Komeito, a junior coalition partner, is pressing for more change, as are some members of the ruling party. The Japanese Business Federation Keidanren is also advocating for workers.
“Businesses cannot be conducted just within [Japan],” said chairman Masakazu Tokura last month. “It affects our national interests,” said LDP’s education policy committee head Tomohiro Yamamoto.
International students who are unable to study in Japan choose to study in other countries, which harms Japan’s international standing. Although some are still waiting for vital specifics, the news is welcomed after it was discovered that the admission prohibition was negatively impacting the mental health of international students.
One student, who wanted to remain anonymous, has been waiting for almost three years to study in Japan, and while he is overjoyed with the news, he believes it may not be enough to restore faith in Japan’s boundaries.
“My application for nomination from my home university started in 2019. The first application to my university in Japan was autumn 2020 for the spring semester 2021 – the reason I chose to postpone the exchange semester is because of the effort it takes to study in Japan and the interest of studying there which at least makes me not want to change destination,” they said.
“I am not confident about the borders reopening since I know about what happened last year in November. The border closed again soon after they opened it.
Even though many details remain unknown, the new quarantine rule has been revealed: as the government relaxes entrance rules, immigrants would face one of three quarantine scenarios, based on their vaccination status and country of departure.
Ahead of the announcement, speculations circulated about potential exemptions of language students and workers’ families. In reaction, a Twitter campaign, #allentriesarethesame, was launched, with many students and workers posting images of themselves with the length of time they’d been waiting to enter Japan.
Although there are several questions that remain unresolved at the moment and there is so much more to it than just flying.
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