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Japan: overseas students need entry timeline “as soon as possible”

The Japanese government continues to face backlash as students and wellbeing groups push for a timeline to re-enter “as soon as possible”.

Stakeholders are “extremely disappointed” with how sluggish policy changes are going and people have “lost trust in Japan”. Photo: Pexels

"For me, the worst part of living in this limbo is the lack of information"

Stakeholders are saying that they are extremely disappointed with how sluggish policy changes are going and people have “lost trust in Japan”.

“The current border policies are not helping to keep Omicron out, since most people in Japan can go in and out, but a minority are stuck in limbo,” Davide Rossi, the head of Japanese agency Go! Go! Nihon, told The PIE News.

“If it’s okay for citizens to go out and then re-enter Japan, why is it not okay for new entrants such as international students, workforce, and spouses or dependents?” he continued.

“If it’s okay for citizens to go out and then re-enter Japan, why is it not okay for new entrants such as international students?”

In an article at the beginning of the year, Nikkei Asia reported that popular universities in the US such as Johns Hopkins will not be sending any more undergraduates in the spring.

Without the large interest in exchange programs from overseas, Japanese universities may hurt badly; Rossi cites that there have been a “number of cancellations” of programs across the board.

“Changes in destinations for other countries such as South Korea are very high right now,” said Rossi.

One international student, Anaís Cordeiro de Medeiros, 28, from Acre in northwest Brazil,was supposed to take her course in Japan; it ended up being taught entirely online.

“I have already booked and rebooked my ticket more than 1 times, having memories the melody of the airline’s telephone service,” Cordeiro said in an open letter to the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, and all the “decision-makers on Japan’s borders”.

“What most students are looking for is for the government of Japan to make a clear plan for welcoming students and letting us know about this decision,” Cordeiro told The PIE News.

“For me, the worst part of living in this limbo is the lack of information – we can’t program ourselves for anything because we never know when we will finally be able to fulfil our dream of going to Japan, or how much longer we need to wait,” she added.

Cordeiro, like many other students, has been waiting two years, “living for information that I never get”.

She has now finished her studies, and is hoping that she will be able to make it to Japan for her graduation in mid-March.

One exemption is a cohort of 87 students that are being allowed into Japan – a Twitter page called @StrandedOutJPN, formed by a group of students tweeting about the ongoing ban, is concerned about what this might mean for others.

“Since even the government recognises that almost 150,000 students have been waiting to enter Japan – many since 2020 – the 87 exceptions mean very little for solving the issue,” the group told The PIE.

“It’s true that they may have impelling reasons to be in Japan, so have most of us,” it added.

Rossi concurs that this exception for only 87 students is a “slap in the face” for the thousands who have been “losing money, time and energy” waiting for the issue to be addressed.

Another issue plaguing Japan’s international students is the number of graduate jobs available in Japan, and the timeline in which they can apply and get those jobs.

Nikkei also interviewed a Taiwanese woman who had finished her two years at a graduate school in Japan, and quickly found out that the job market was much narrower than expected.

Eight months after arriving in Japan, she found that most students alongside her had already lined up a job post-graduation – finding out, at the same time, that the backlog meant that many people apply for positions just after arriving in Japan.

“If a foreign student plans to go to graduate school in Japan, they have to start job hunting immediately after arriving,” said Shiyou Naka, head of Linc, which provides job-hunting support for international students and foreign nationals in the country.

“While you are still trying to decide whether to stay in Japan or not, you miss the timing,” she added.

“International students tend to want to join large companies to reassure relatives back home – because they narrow down their applications, time passes without them getting any offers, and they have to go on to higher education or return home,” Yuji Kobayashi, senior researcher at human resource company Persol told Nikkei.

While the trouble continues for students wishing to get a job at the end of their studies in Japan, getting in is still the biggest battle for international students.

“What kind of future are we building if we treat young students this way?”

“Japan is the only G7 country and possibly the only OECD country that doesn’t let long-term students enter and doesn’t have any words or plans for them,” Rossi explained. Other OECD countries such as China and New Zealand (which is planning to open up from April 30) are yet to open their borders for international students.

“Without foreign minds, students, researchers and workers, Japan will fall even quicker than other countries in Asia,” he added.

“I still sincerely hope that other students can join to pursue their studies,” Cordeiro said.

“They just want to be able to study in a healthier way – what kind of future are we building if we treat young students this way?”

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7 Responses to Japan: overseas students need entry timeline “as soon as possible”

  1. Countries such as the UK have been in the active in making sure their citizens are vaccinated. most people have had their booster. I am so angry at the Japanese Government, for not allowing undergraduate students who have been fully vaccinated and hold track and trace to enter japan. the purpose of studying Japanese means that you get to visit he country for a year as part of your studies. now because your Government is not in tune with the rest of the world. most students have missed out, some even regret taking the course. it is simple, if you have been fully vaccinated you should be able to travel to japan. the Japanese government needs to understands that he has fall many young people.
    you should really reconsider. cov. is here to stay. and it is not so deadly as the first. with vaccine, testing, it can be contained. speaking from experience. because I had my vaccine. it just felt like a cold.

  2. Everyone raising voices about students. Also note that Japan is keeping family separated. Even though my spouse fully vaccinated Japan do not want let in because I am a foreigner. Stressful.

  3. My husband is working in Japan and I have been waiting for the past one year to enter Japan. Me and my husband got married on 2021 January after one long year of waiting due to Japans border restrictions, and since March 2021 Japan again closed their border. It’s been a year and me nd my husband living separately after marriage. On nov 8 Japan announced the opening of their border and I got my visa after that my tickets were booked accordingly. But on Nov 28th just few days after I got my visa they again closed their borders and embassy said my visa got cancelled and I couldn’t come. This not only affected us mentally but also financially. Actually my husband who came for a few day vacation can return back to Japan and just because I m a new entry I cannot enter Japan. I don’t get the logic behind this decision, if I m having covid then my husband also do. No other countries are restricting spouses to accompany their husband. This is too much for us to take and we are going through an extremely difficult situation with our married life due to this restrictions. This has to stop. I think there are lot of people who are experiencing the same situation. Japan government has to take action. We people are suffering mentally, financially and in all other aspects.

  4. My son got admission in Language school in 2020, he got his COE to enter Japan. Due to continous lockdown in Japan and India he was not able to enter Japan for his studies. The classes were conducted online. In the interim the COE validity expired and when borders were open the course came to an end.

    Based on his Language course he got admission for Design School in 2021. Further his COE was rejected…and he had to continue his academics online…he re-applied for COE 3 times and it was rejected.
    Although we had submitted all the required documents to the School.

    Because of the COE rejection, School informed us to withdraw the admission. A very Big Hit to the career.

    As a mother I would request the authorities to please help the youth to pursue their career. Their efforts are tremendous. While they attend the online classes the youth have to adhere to the different time zones of different countries to attend online classes on scheduled time. Their entire sleep is disturbed, affecting their health.

    Inspite of these efforts if they are not able to get an entry in Japan the result is frustration and waste of efforts time money health and giving up the trust and believe to chase their dream.

    Please support the youth during these critical situation to chase their dreams and not leading to frustration.

  5. As a 2021 MEXT Masters scholar I have been told that I will be in Japan by September. Therefore, the Japanese embassy in my home country suggested I book a flat in Japan from September of 2021. Since September I have been paying for a flat in Japan without any financial help from MEXT nor the instalments that I should have received from the scholarship since September. Since I have not been able to enter Japan, MEXT is not willing to compensate for the previous months that I should have received as stated in the scholarship. Also, I have been doing my online Japanese classes everyday from 2am-8am (Europe time) which aggravates my depression, lack of sleep, anxiety and panic attacks. My mental health has seriously declined as I am unable to enjoy any daylight due to the fact that I have to sleep during the day and join the online class at night. I am in serious agony everyday and everyday feels unbearable and the teachers force me to be interactive during class, do presentations and answer questions while I have to be quiet as people at my home are sleeping. Also, the fact that I left my job for this scholarship left me with an enormous amount of responsibility of paying a flat in Japan while I am not there and without getting any help from anyone. Lastly, I am extremely worried everyday having to face another day like this because my Masters is meant to be practical and only done in Japan. I am lost for words.

  6. Am muyimba micheal from uganda ..just waited to enter japan since July 2021..am tired because this has caused mental and financial stress throughout the year 2021 and we have also started 2022 with the stress again ..this has to stop ..japanesse Government has to intervene

    .

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