It's a call that anyone living overseas dreads receiving: Someone in your family is sick or injured, and you need to go home as soon as possible.

You have permanent residency in Japan. You pay your taxes, you speak the language, you have married a Japanese national. Despite all that, if you leave the country you are at risk of not being allowed back in.

That is exactly the situation that many non-Japanese residents of this country have found themselves in due to the current pandemic. As governments around the world imposed travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, Japan was been unique among the G7 nations in treating its foreign residents differently from its citizens, who are allowed to enter the country as long as they submit to a PCR test at their port of entry and agree to isolate themselves for two weeks afterward.