Japan’s travel ban has been an emotional roller coaster for many international students as they wait to resume their studies on campus. The fact that Japanese citizens and residents are allowed to enter and leave the country while adding salt to the wound students and workers stranded have not been given the green light to do so.
Students expressed their concerns and frustrations on Twitter using the hashtags #educationisnottourism and #japantravelban. Japan travel ban extended due to Omicron variant, reports suggest highly likely borders will remain closed until next year.
(1/4) This is the official response we received yesterday from the Ministry of Education.
You can find the original request here: https://t.co/X67vSL9Yf8#japantravelban #educationisnotourism # 日本 留学 の 扉 を 開 く # 無 駄 に し た 青春 を 返 せ # 開国 し な さ い ニ ッ ポ ン @konotarogame @mextjapan pic.twitter.com/sauU5DLQQB
– Davide Rossi – educationisnottourism.com (@rossi_davide) December 9, 2021
Sujan Uprety, a 21-year-old Nepalese student at Japan Engineering College, tells us how he has been handling his distance education since October 2020, despite having a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) – a document that allows him to study in Japan:
What prompted you to study in Japan?
I love Japanese culture and have always dreamed of living there. Many Nepalese students want to go there because the possibility of getting a better education and a part-time job is higher.
I am a Nepalese graduate student and decided to continue my studies abroad. I got my COE in August of last year for the October start, sent my tuition and board fees in December and got an appointment at the embassy to get my student visa.
But the travel ban to Japan began in December 2020, so embassies stopped issuing visas. Since then, I have been taking online classes.
What other obstacles do you face with the travel ban in Japan?
I certainly had some mental health issues during the Japan travel ban – the way they treat self-funded students is very disappointing. They give special allowances to DJs, musicians, athletes and VIP guests, but none to us.
I watch the news and follow the Japanese media to stay calm in the hopes that the government will open the borders to stranded students soon.
What more do you think needs to be done to help students stranded outside Japan?
The government is expected to lift the ban on travel to Japan and allow self-funded international students with COEs to enter the country. We are prepared to follow the quarantine rules and most of us are vaccinated.
The policy surpasses the travel ban in Japan. There is scientific evidence that the Omicron variant is not a huge threat and even then Japan is the only G7 country still banning international students.
What is your university doing to support you?
They do online classes once a week in the hope that we will keep in touch with them.
Do you have a back-up plan if the travel ban in Japan continues?
I’m sick of waiting so long. I plan to drop if they maintain the travel ban in Japan beyond the last day of December. I am going to enroll in a school in my country and leave my dream behind because I have chosen to study in Japan, not study at home via online courses.
What would you advise for those wishing to study in Japan?
I don’t really know what to say. I think everyone who is waiting for the travel ban to be lifted in Japan should speak up and share what they are going through. I would advise future students not to apply at this time in these uncertain times.