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Japan on Wednesday began reopening its borders to tens of thousands of foreign residents locked out since April, as the government attempted to keep the coronavirus at bay. But after four months in limbo, some residents who have lived in Japan for years are questioning the wisdom of returning.


Arrivals beginning on Wednesday will still be limited to foreign residents who left Japan before entries from their country of origin were banned, officials said the same day. The first bans were issued April 3. Those who knowingly exited after the applicable date will have to wait longer, according to the ministry, which says about 90,000 are eligible, out of around 200,000 stranded overseas.


Foreign governments have been pressuring Japan, the only Group of Seven country to block permanent residents from reentering, for reciprocity for their citizens. Meanwhile, foreign residents who have remained on Japanese shores have faced the constant fear of an emergency that would require them to leave, with no guarantee of being able to come back.


Technically, Japanese citizens have been able to leave and reenter throughout the crisis, even when the country was under a state of emergency in April and May. "I'm not sure we've received any explanation for why a foreign resident is a greater risk than a Japanese national entering Japan," said Christopher LaFleur, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.


The stranding of foreign executives, educators, engineers, and laborers has affected businesses and universities. It has also overshadowed Japan's attempts to court foreign talent in an effort to remake Tokyo into Asia's international hub. 


"I can't think of a more unfortunate time for Japan to create doubts in the international business community," said LaFleur. "If you're a foreign company looking at Japan as a base for your business, this is going to be a significant deterrent because there is clearly discrimination."


In a survey by the European Business Council in Japan, 86% of over 300 member companies said they were burdened by the entry ban, with 44% expecting a loss in revenue.



The burden has also fallen on Japanese companies seeking to collaborate with or recruit foreigners. An English conversation school hired Hannah Bradley, an American who received her partial immigration papers at the end of March, a day before the government announced it would bar arrivals from countries hit hard by the pandemic -- the U.S. included.


Desperate to reunite with her partner, a Japanese citizen, Bradley considered flying from the U.S. to spend the 14-day quarantine period in a third country like Mexico or Papua New Guinea. But as the number of restricted countries on the website of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs rose to 146, she watched her options vanish.


"If I can't enter Japan before 2021, I don't think I will at all," Bradley said.


Japanese educators have also voiced concerns about the entry ban and the halted issuance of visas to foreign students and researchers. "The progress of joint research has been greatly affected," the Japan Association of National Universities wrote to the minister of education in July.


For early and midcareer academics, the question is, "Do I want to stay and carry on my research career here if I'm going to be treated differently from Japanese researchers?" said Jenny Corbett, Rio Tinto Fellow at the Foundation for Australia-Japan Studies, which provides research grants.


"It's the pipeline of younger people that you risk losing," she added.


Universities have asked the government to include research travel in its list of activities exempted from the entry restrictions, since Japanese researchers are able to come and go.


"No one is expecting to have special treatment but everyone wants to see equal treatment," Corbett said.


Seemingly straightforward, the reentry process implemented on Wednesday presents several hitches. Regardless of nationality, travelers will be required to take a coronavirus test in their country of origin within 72 hours of departure, and obtain a confirmation letter certifying the test from a Japanese Embassy. Upon arrival, they will be expected to take another test at their port of entry and spend two weeks in self-isolation.



Source: https://asia.nikkei.com

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Japan lifts virus ban on re-entry of foreign residents

Tap "WorldWire" above  to follow us



Japan on Wednesday began reopening its borders to tens of thousands of foreign residents locked out since April, as the government attempted to keep the coronavirus at bay. But after four months in limbo, some residents who have lived in Japan for years are questioning the wisdom of returning.


Arrivals beginning on Wednesday will still be limited to foreign residents who left Japan before entries from their country of origin were banned, officials said the same day. The first bans were issued April 3. Those who knowingly exited after the applicable date will have to wait longer, according to the ministry, which says about 90,000 are eligible, out of around 200,000 stranded overseas.


Foreign governments have been pressuring Japan, the only Group of Seven country to block permanent residents from reentering, for reciprocity for their citizens. Meanwhile, foreign residents who have remained on Japanese shores have faced the constant fear of an emergency that would require them to leave, with no guarantee of being able to come back.


Technically, Japanese citizens have been able to leave and reenter throughout the crisis, even when the country was under a state of emergency in April and May. "I'm not sure we've received any explanation for why a foreign resident is a greater risk than a Japanese national entering Japan," said Christopher LaFleur, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.


The stranding of foreign executives, educators, engineers, and laborers has affected businesses and universities. It has also overshadowed Japan's attempts to court foreign talent in an effort to remake Tokyo into Asia's international hub. 


"I can't think of a more unfortunate time for Japan to create doubts in the international business community," said LaFleur. "If you're a foreign company looking at Japan as a base for your business, this is going to be a significant deterrent because there is clearly discrimination."


In a survey by the European Business Council in Japan, 86% of over 300 member companies said they were burdened by the entry ban, with 44% expecting a loss in revenue.



The burden has also fallen on Japanese companies seeking to collaborate with or recruit foreigners. An English conversation school hired Hannah Bradley, an American who received her partial immigration papers at the end of March, a day before the government announced it would bar arrivals from countries hit hard by the pandemic -- the U.S. included.


Desperate to reunite with her partner, a Japanese citizen, Bradley considered flying from the U.S. to spend the 14-day quarantine period in a third country like Mexico or Papua New Guinea. But as the number of restricted countries on the website of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs rose to 146, she watched her options vanish.


"If I can't enter Japan before 2021, I don't think I will at all," Bradley said.


Japanese educators have also voiced concerns about the entry ban and the halted issuance of visas to foreign students and researchers. "The progress of joint research has been greatly affected," the Japan Association of National Universities wrote to the minister of education in July.


For early and midcareer academics, the question is, "Do I want to stay and carry on my research career here if I'm going to be treated differently from Japanese researchers?" said Jenny Corbett, Rio Tinto Fellow at the Foundation for Australia-Japan Studies, which provides research grants.


"It's the pipeline of younger people that you risk losing," she added.


Universities have asked the government to include research travel in its list of activities exempted from the entry restrictions, since Japanese researchers are able to come and go.


"No one is expecting to have special treatment but everyone wants to see equal treatment," Corbett said.


Seemingly straightforward, the reentry process implemented on Wednesday presents several hitches. Regardless of nationality, travelers will be required to take a coronavirus test in their country of origin within 72 hours of departure, and obtain a confirmation letter certifying the test from a Japanese Embassy. Upon arrival, they will be expected to take another test at their port of entry and spend two weeks in self-isolation.



Source: https://asia.nikkei.com

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