It will take ‘a significant amount of time’ before more int’l students can return to Japan: minister

Japan border updates
The 5,000 daily arrivals also includes Japanese nationals returning to the country. Source: Daniel Slim / AFP

The latest Japan border updates state that from March 1, 2022, the country will ease COVID-19 border controls, which includes increasing the daily cap on the number of people allowed to enter Japan from 3,500 to 5,000 per day, and reducing or exempting quarantine periods for Japanese and foreign nationals.

This is a far cry from the estimated 64,000 entrants a day that we’re entering for long-term visits before the pandemic.

The decision comes following growing calls from universities, business leaders, and ruling party members to ease entry restrictions. There have been concerns over the economic effects of the border closure on the country.

“[This news] was a step in the right direction, but 5,000 entries per day is not nearly enough to welcome the number of re-entries, and the almost 400,000 new entries who have been waiting for as long as two years,” Davide Rossi, CEO of Go! Go! Nihon told The PIE News.

Japan will allow 5,000 new entrants each day from March, but this will mean students will still struggle to enter. Source: Jewel Samad/AFP

Japan border updates: Students’ reactions

Despite the latest Japan border updates stating that the country will increase the cap of entrants into the country, many international students are still disappointed and feel it will take too long to return.

Concerns among international students include losing “another semester” due to the daily cap as there is no certainty of when they may enter Japan, said a representative from StrandedOutJPN.

Some students have lost their faith in Japan reopening its borders to them.

“I am not confident about the borders reopening since I know about what happened last year in November. The border closed again soon after they opened it,” an anonymous student was quoted saying by the portal.

Amongst the sea of disappointed international students, some see a silver lining with the latest Japan border updates.

Jommy Kwok, who has missed nearly all of her first year of post-graduate classes in atmospheric science at Hokkaido University, was quoted saying by ABC News via the Associated Press: “It’s still better than nothing.” During the pandemic, Kwok became the only one in her entire class of 20 students who had to attend lectures and do research online while she stayed back in Hong Kong, adding that “I have been quite left out.”

The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Akio Mimura is advocating for an increase in the daily entry cap. Source: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

Solutions from the Japanese government

The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Akio Mimura is advocating for an increase in the daily entry cap, reported the Associated Press. Mimura urged the government to raise awareness that the policy is harming parts of society.

Education Minister Shinsuke Suematsu said Japan is trying to allow in as many international students as possible before the April start of the new academic year, but “it will still take a significant amount of time before everyone can get in.”