An American woman faces a choice: stay with her family in Japan or return to her home country indefinitely to be with her father after the sudden death of her mother. A Sri Lankan man and new father is forced to navigate the coronavirus pandemic without a job after being denied re-entry following a trip to his home country to care for his newborn baby. An Indian mother worries about the risks a missed vaccine shot may pose for her child after they weren’t permitted to return to Japan ahead of a scheduled appointment.

Japan is moving towards loosening its border control measures, but across the nation the entry ban on foreign nationals amid the pandemic is having a lasting impact on the lives of residents who have spent years and even decades making this country their home and has left them feeling trapped on either side of the border.

Japan, which has been struggling with its aging population, has in recent years made efforts to attract talent from abroad ― from students to highly skilled professionals ― through its self-professed omotenashi (spirit of hospitality).