The time will finally come, according to the July 13 story “Japan to allow re-entry for more foreign residents amid coronavirus measures, sources say.” But it is not yet time to make whoopee because the Japanese government is still in the planning phase of admitting both student and working visa holders stuck abroad due to the stringent travel restrictions over the coronavirus.
In the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ruled that students’ visas are to be revoked unless in-person classes are held in the fall semester. After a while, however, 17states and the District of Columbia agreed to sue the president over the suffering of foreign students, following Harvard and MIT. I was pleased because students’ lives in college may no longer be thwarted.
Still, the situation in Japan is far from that of the U.S., but there is one thing is common: The entry ban in Japan has put international students in fear of uncertainty because they are denied entry except for specific circumstances. I don’t say that Japan should have indiscriminately opened its borders, but it should have admitted foreigners with visas on the condition that they are tested and hand in negative results beforehand and are quarantined upon arrival.
Some argue that as schools offer online classes, being there in person does not matter. But how can students in Brazil take a class held at 1 p.m. Japan time? What if students experience regular and sudden outages during videoconferencing? Just because students are in Japan, it does not mean that there are no problems or concerns, but vociferous calls should be maintained for sweeping out the harsh restrictions on humanitarian grounds, which would at least ease the uncertainty of international students and help protect their futures, as schools in the U.S. did.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.