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Coronavirus

Let’s Break Free from COVID Isolationism and Welcome International Students Again

Turning away privately financed international students but allowing those with government backing hurts Japan’s future, too.

The Sankei Shimbun

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Good news for bars and drinkers: business hour restrictions in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Osaka Prefecture were lifted on October 25. With the rapid decline in new Covid cases, society is gradually returning to normal. 

But some restrictions are still in place, including the restrictions on immigration of foreign nationals. 

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For example, only a small number of government-sponsored international students are allowed to enter Japan. This means that privately financed students, who make up the majority of international students, have no choice but to remain in their home countries and take online classes, even if they have been admitted to Japanese universities.

Late last month, an NHK news program reported on the struggles of a 22-year-old Spanish woman who had long dreamed of coming to Japan. Joana Gubau has loved Japanese anime and idols since she was a child. After graduating from university, she decided to enroll in a language school to fulfill her dream of working in the fashion industry in Japan.

But now she is studying Korean at a university in Seoul because she was told she could not enter Japan. 

Japan is the only country among the seven advanced economies (G7) that does not allow international students to enter the country. As a result, there have been several cases like Ms. Gubau’s where students have changed their study destination from Japan to another country. 

With a growing sense of crisis, the Japan Association of National Universities (JANU) and the Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges (JAPUC) have requested the Ministry of Education and other organizations to ease immigration restrictions for international students. However, the government has been slow to respond.

How does the world view Japan? Many think Japanese people tend to be more cautious than other nationalities. 

An article about the world-renowned soprano Edita Gruberova, who passed away recently, emphasized her love for Japan.

But if Japan continues to isolate itself from the rest of the world, even people like Joana Gubau, who could have fallen in love with Japan if she had the chance, will turn away.

RELATED: Tokyo, Osaka Ease Emergency Restrictions as New COVID Infections Plummet

(Read the Sankei Sho column in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun