Re-entry ban horror stories pile up in the Indian community even as Japan eases border restrictions
Japan Times -- Aug 10
Kaushik Kumar really loves Japan and has wanted to live here long-term for a while now, even though he knew he’d always be “treated like a foreigner.”

“The positives are: good infrastructure, good health care and the people are lovely,” says the 25-year-old from Bangalore, India, when asked why he chose Japan over other countries. “Overall, the quality of life here is better than in India.”

Kumar has been stranded in Bangalore since March, however, awaiting permission from Japanese authorities to return home to Tokyo. He says he now seems to understand what being “treated like a foreigner” can really mean.

“I didn’t even have health insurance in India,” he says via a WhatsApp call, adding that he has since had to buy insurance there. “My entire life is in Japan and it is treating me and many like me, who pay taxes and social insurance, like average tourists. That is very depressing.”

Kumar is one of thousands of Indian residents of Japan who are still stuck in their homeland due to an entry ban on foreign arrivals, which was first introduced in April to protect the country from the COVID-19.

He had been living in Japan since last year but was visiting his family in March when India closed its own borders to try to shield itself from the coronavirus. Days before the country opened up again on June 1, Japan added India to its list of countries and regions affected by the entry ban.

Japan wasn’t alone in closing its borders. Many nations took similar actions as the extremely contagious virus made its way around the world. However, unlike the other G7 nations, Japan’s policy applied to permanent and long-term residents — though not Japanese nationals coming from those same areas, who were requested to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return to Japan.

The government has said that some foreign nationals could re-enter the country on humanitarian grounds but it gave no clear definition of the criteria until June 12.

“I wasn’t able to go back and wondered how many like me were stranded in India,” Kumar says. “I started looking for more information on the Indian community groups and that’s how I got connected to hundreds of others like me.”

News source: Japan Times
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