Japan unclear on when to allow foreign students back

Under severe criticism for keeping out foreign students and faculty under its coronavirus protection entry ban, Japan is hinting at plans to start relaxing the rules from August.

But a lack of clear policy, including a specific entry date for foreign students and teachers, continues to worry university management amid concerns over the status of their studies, research and jobs.

This contrasts with others such as Taiwan, which never had a complete campus lockdown, and Singapore where universities are now reopening. These countries will allow in foreign students and researchers from this month and August respectively, under strict quarantine conditions that will be completed in time for foreign students to start the new semester.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on 10 July that Japan will start discussions with countries seeing declining coronavirus infections and high demand for business trips. The entry ban was imposed on 3 April with 129 countries on the list.

The easing of travel restrictions will be in stages and cover 10 countries including China, South Korea and Taiwan, Japanese media reported. The conditions for entry are that foreigners must submit negative COVID-19 test results.

Some foreign residents are allowed to return under special conditions such as for humanitarian reasons. But the foreign minister also said Japan would prioritise “business travellers and international talent Japan is in need of” before easing restrictions for foreign students and eventually for tourists.

The lack of testing capacity in Japan has been highlighted by Japanese media. Japan’s Kyodo News service reported on Friday that China and South Korea could pose a larger challenge because of the sheer number of people that could potentially come to Japan.

- universityworldnews.com