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Closed Borders in Japan Inspire Empathy From 2022 Nonresidents and Foreigners

Borders in Japan—While Adeline Leng, a Singaporean, had hoped to begin learning Japanese at a language school in April, the country’s COVID-19 border regulations have prevented her from doing so.

The 26-year-old Leng began the application process 16 months ago, and the wait has been long and increasingly stressful.

“The stress of not being able to enter Japan started to get to me when the timeline passed, and we got to roughly August, after the (Tokyo) Olympics, and September and October,” Leng told Kyodo News in an online interview.

Subsequently November 30 of last year, the World Health Organization labeled the highly dangerous coronavirus Omicron strain “a variety of concern” in Japan, which has since prevented nonresident foreigners from entering.

The policy, which will remain in force at least until the end of February, has prevented up to 140,000 students from beginning their studies in Japan from doing so.

Despite the international outcry that the government’s rigorous border restrictions are unjust and constitute discrimination against foreigners, some students persist in their quest to enter the country. In contrast, others have given up and left. Other countries, such as South Korea, have seen a rise in the number of passengers.

After leaving Singapore at ten, Leng ended up in Australia. However, Leng, whose grandmother was born and raised in Japan, had always aspired to call Japan home. Finally came out to her parents at the age of 13 or 14; she recalls being informed she would have language and cultural obstacles since she was “not 100% Japanese,” but she didn’t believe them.

However, her desire to live in the nation remained, and she began learning the language during her senior year of high school.

With a master’s degree in architecture and urban design, Leng moved to digital format when the pandemic began because he felt “the building sector is not doing very well” in the wake of the outbreak. She started a relationship with an Australian businessman who lives and works in Japan simultaneously.

She said that her long-held aim of working in a Japanese tech business has finally come true. “To achieve my dream of traveling to Japan to study, work, and live,” she added.

Closed Borders in Japan Cause Distress

“Emotional expenses” have been incurred by foreigners due to Japan’s restrictive immigration policies.

She describes herself as “trapped in limbo.” “I can’t go back in time.”

Because of the worsening COVID-19 situation in Australia, she went to Singapore in October of last year and is still waiting for when she will be able to live her dream in Japan.

Some of your friends who share your viewpoints have already relocated to European countries that welcome overseas students as students.

After packing her bag in her Rio Branco, Brazil, home in February 2020, Anais Cordeiro de Medeiros posed for a picture with her godmother. She was heading to Japan to study Japanese. Images courtesy of Anais Cordeiro de Medeiros/Kyodo and Anais Cordeiro de Medeiros

Plans to study in Japan for Brazilian Anais Cordeiro de Medeiros have collapsed.

In April of 2020, the 29-year-old was supposed to attend graduate school in Tokyo for two years to begin the new fiscal year. The epidemic situation worsened as she packed her suitcases at home in Rio Branco, western Brazil.

To pay for her move to Japan, she resigned and sold her car. “Although I tried to adjust to the reality that had been foisted upon me, I never abandoned Japan.”

Even though there is a 14-hour time difference, she decided to take classes from the graduate school in Tokyo online and prepare to go at a moment’s notice.

Because of her “biologic clock,” she stated, “It would be fantastic to learn healthily” in Japan.

With tears running down her face, she stated that the travel ban, which she characterized as “racist,” will have “terrible social impacts,” not only on individuals who cannot go to Japan but also on Japan itself. “I am not a threat, and I’m just a high school student trying to make it in the world.”

Finally, she’ll be able to walk across the stage at her graduation ceremony after spending nearly two years working on her master’s thesis from the comfort of her own home. She might be able to make it to the graduation ceremony in Tokyo in mid-March if that’s any solace.

Closed Borders in Japan Require Extraordinary Circumstances

Japan’s present border policy forbids entry for nonresident foreigners unless there are “extraordinary circumstances.”

On January 19, 2022, Davide Rossi sat down for an online interview from the comfort of his Tokyo home. (Kyodo)

Japan’s “double standard” policies, according to Davide Rossi, the owner of a Tokyo-based company that assists international students in studying in Japan, are both unfair and pointless.

According to Rossi, a common misconception is that quarantine is being implemented to keep the Omicron out, which is not valid. The 39-year-old added that the students he knows are willing to remain in the quarantine as long as necessary.

Rossi, who came to Tokyo as a language student from Italy in 2008, set up a Japan association called “Open the gates to safe study” this spring to support foreign students harmed by Japan’s border controls and share information with them.

“I cannot change things by myself; this is too big…but I wanted to, you know, do something for them,” said Rossi.

Some once-passionate Japanese students, according to Rossi, have “totally transformed into haters,” declaring that “enough is enough.” “We see a lot of people moving to South Korea instead of Japan,” he continued.

One of them is a French woman who decided last fall to move to Seoul and enroll in school there starting in December. After receiving a working holiday visa in August 2019 for one or two years commencing in the following year, she never made it to Japan.

“For two years, I placed my life on hold without knowing when this wait would end. I’m 33 years old, and I can’t keep squandering my time like this, “said the unnamed woman, who requested anonymity for her safety.

Japan’s education ministry claims that up to 147,000 persons are thought to have been waiting for admittance to Japan but that a “significant percentage” of them are considered to be no longer willing to come.

IN MID-JANUARY, the WHO, which urged member nations to lift or lessen international travel bans because they do not bring “added value,” has criticized Japan’s entry prohibition.

Domestic business lobbies have also voiced their concerns about the long-term impact of limiting the number of foreign workers and researchers entering the country. This could hasten the country’s already-chronic labor deficit and lead to a loss of national power in the long run.

To quote Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc., the “foolish” border control measures “remind me of the isolation strategy in the Edo Era” between the early 17th century and mid-19th century.

Despite this, studies conducted by Japanese media reveal that more than 80% of Japanese people accept the present stringent border regulations.

Backed by public opinion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has repeatedly claimed that “We are implementing the harshest measures” among the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

However, there have been several exceptions issued by the government to the restriction. Minister Hirokazu Matsuno said the decision was made “in terms of public interest and urgency” and that 400 overseas students, 87 of them government-sponsored, were permitted into the country.

“Until the end of February,” Matsuno added, the government will “keep the structure” of its border controls.

According to Rossi, there should be a “clear criteria and schedule” provided by the government so that international students may plan their studies accordingly.

I think we have a lot of potentials and are pretty skilled, even though we aren’t (government-sponsored students),” Leng remarked. “Keeping a travel ban is not good for the Japanese people, Japan, or the rest of the globe in today’s globalized world.”

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