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Closed Borders in Japan: Distressed Students Increase in 2022

Closed Borders in Japan—Many international students hoping to study in Japan have dashed their aspirations once again due to Japan’s extended prohibition on foreign visitors.

For 18 months, a man in his 20s from China has studied for the Tokyo University of the Arts’ graduate school entrance exam.

Late in December, he received an email from the school that broke his heart.

According to the email, there will be no exceptional measures taken, such as remote or makeup exams, even if you are unable to enter Japan to take the exam.

On January 11, the Japanese government announced an extension of the prohibition on entry until the end of February. This means that until the middle of February, when the university’s entrance exam is held, the man will not enter Japan.

He isn’t the only one who feels left out of this conversation.

Closed Borders in Japan Ban More than Students

Japan reimposed its ban on foreigners entering the country on November 30 because of the spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

Allowing 87 international students enrolled in government-funded programs to enter the country was an exception to earlier bans.

There are more than 140,000 persons who are waiting to study in Japan, but only a tiny fraction of them have applied.

At a Chinese university, the man studied animated cartoons as a major. Students from Tokyo University of the Arts produced videos for him when he was a junior in high school when he was abroad in South Korea. He was enthralled by the works and decided to pursue a university education.

A few months after he graduated from college in June 2020, he began studying in Japan to go to graduate school there.

Nevertheless, he could not take the exam for enrollment in the fiscal year 2021 because of COVID restrictions.

Due to the desire to not “give up on my dream,” he gave it another go.

In November 2013, he was granted permission to enter Japan as a student by a Japanese language school he had applied to. He persisted in his preparations for the test.

Japan’s recent prohibition on foreigners entering the country scuppered that idea.

However, “I can honestly say that my enthusiasm has waned somewhat since my junior year,” he admitted. In other words, “I’m unfortunate.”

Closed Borders in Japan Pose Hindrance to Education

Last year, the Ministry of Education requested in writing that the presidents of national, public, and private institutions ensure that foreign applicants can take entrance examinations without having to go to Japan.

The Tokyo University of the Arts faculty considered how to respond to each instruction issued by the ministry. For individuals who couldn’t take the exam in Japan, the university chose not to offer alternate options.

The university contemplated enabling students to post their artwork or musical performances online in the past. It’s impossible to assess the works and performances until we see or hear them in person.

Other universities can do this.

An official from the Kyoto City University of the Arts stated that applicants for the university’s graduate school might take their entrance tests online.

Associations representing national and private Japanese universities claim that there are currently no norms or agreements governing how these institutions should handle international students.

Japan remains the only G7 country to impose a travel ban, even though numerous colleges worldwide have resumed their exchange programs. Forty-nine students from the University of Tokyo traveled overseas last year, but none returned. As the University of Tokyo coordinator put it, “This is not how a student exchange program is intended to work.”

Universities in English-speaking countries are particularly concerned about inequalities in the number of exchange students,” Hiroshi Ota, a professor at Hitotsubashi University, said. According to Ota, participants in university exchange programs will no longer accept Japanese students this fall.

Many international students who have been denied access to Japan because of its current entry ban have expressed their frustration. According to reports, Japanese companies’ ability to recruit and hire global talent may be harmed due to the country’s border shutdown.

Students no longer have the option to travel to Japan because of the country’s travel prohibition. The University of California, Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, and the Australian National University are all included in this list of top universities.

Due to Japan’s declining number of overseas students, many stranded students have been aggressively asking for official permission to return. Advocate for international students and employees Davide Rossi, director of Open the borders to safe study in Japan Association, is aiding students who have been left stranded outside of the country. His group’s mission is to keep students updated on current Japanese events and assist in public relations efforts related to foreign student immigration.

“As of July of this year, there were around 170,000 students who were stranded outside of Japan and awaiting their return. In addition, the country is still open to Japanese citizens and tourists, who can travel overseas and return — not to mention visitors from the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Rossi said in an interview with Study International in 2013.

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