Travel ban locks international students out of country

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The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin in July despite public opposition, sparking frustration among international students who are still locked out of Japan. The Olympics have been delayed for a year due to COVID-19, and the country has banned most travelers from entering the country.

According to its foreign ministry, foreign nationals who have traveled to any of the 159 banned countries or regions in the 14 days prior to landing in Japan are being denied entry.

the top five countries of origin for international students in Japan are China, Vietnam, Nepal, Korea and Taiwan, according to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), which falls under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan .

Foreign nationals who have traveled to any of the 159 banned countries or regions in the 14 days prior to landing in Japan are denied entry. Nepal is one of them.

A poll conducted between May 7 and May 9 showed that 59% of Japanese want the Games canceled. Students who are barred from Japan are pointing out their frustrations online via a Twitter account, “Students, workers, spouses stranded out of Japan.”

“Students cannot come during the Olympics always on the agenda“, he said in a tweet. Another Twitter user, Totue, tweeted: “Yes! Japanese can study abroad while foreign students cannot study in Japan. Athletes can enter Japan but not international students. European students are waking up in the middle of the night to take online courses. Plz interview them too. Ask them how they feel.

Educators in Japan fear for the welfare of international students

Foreign nationals who have traveled to any of the 159 banned countries or regions in the 14 days prior to landing in Japan are denied entry. Source: Yuki Iwamura/AFP

An open letter from scholars regarding the Japanese border closure addressed to Japanese Justice Minister Kamikawa Yoko has asked for more transparency regarding border control procedures. He called on the country to reopen applications for long-stay visas and open borders to long-stay visa holders, their partners and family members. The letter, dated May 21, was written by a group of academics, either employed in Japanese institutions or working in Japan-related fields, who are concerned about current Japanese border policies.

“Currently, borders are closed to all except Japanese passport holders and current long-stay visa holders from January 2021,” the letter said. “There have been slight changes and exceptions, such as for those with Japanese government scholarships or those married to Japanese passport holders. But many whose visas were being processed remain in limbo, with their lives on hold until the policy changes, with no indication of when or if that change might occur.

They add that the current situation is “extremely concerning”, adding that educators are worried about student well-being and learning outcomes. Undergraduate and graduate students who are stranded outside of Japan are forced to attend online classes at odd hours and lack sleep as a result. Students who continue to be stranded outside the country have had to postpone their trip, modify their research project or even lose their scholarships.

“They postpone their future, put their lives on hold and see their financial resources diminish. The whole situation puts students planning to study in Japan under extreme stress. Some have already been forced to abandon their plan to come to Japan. Our students are suffering. Our institutions have no clear direction or support from the government. We are suffering too,” he said.

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