January 21, 2022

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Japan Extends Border Tightening for Foreigners Until February 2022

Jepang Perpanjang Pengetatan Perbatasan bagi Warga Asing hingga Februari 2022

Japan plans to extend their restrictive border crossing policy for foreign travelers until the end of February 2022. This is taken to suppress the spread of the Omicron variant following the increase in positive cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Reporting from Kyodo, Tuesday (11/1/2022), a source said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will announce the steps to be taken today. Kishida previously indicated that he would announce his decision regarding border control this week in light of the evolving pandemic situation during the 2022 New Year holiday. He met with Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto on Monday, January 10, 2021, at his official residence.

The focus is on whether he will make exceptions for some, including foreign students taking part in state-sponsored exchange programs. Many of these students were unable to enter Japan following the country’s decision to ban all foreign travelers from various countries from entering their country.

Permission to enter Japan is only granted to spouses and children of Japanese citizens or residents who have a residence permit with special circumstances. Japan has implemented the policy as of November 30, 2021 in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant in the country of cherry.

As a result of this situation, more than 300 people turned down offers to work as foreign language teachers and positions as assistants in Japan. This condition has led to a drastic reduction of instructors in this field in Japan. The majority of those canceling participation from the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program (JET) came from the United States and several other countries, according to a Kyodo News survey.

The exact number is believed to be much higher considering that several regions were respondents in the survey. The survey also includes prefectural governments, major cities, and international groups engaged in educational exchange.

Number of Candidates

The JET program, which was first launched in 1987, collaborates with various local governments and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Communications as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The program aims to invite them from abroad to teach in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Japan for a maximum of five years.

According to Ministry of Home Affairs data, 5,761 candidates would initially join the program based on fiscal 2019. However, the ministry did not release the following year’s data due to ‘inability to state the number who will participate given the changing situation’, an official said.

However, the number of JET candidates is believed to have fallen to around 4000 by 2021, including those who were previously re-elected. The appearance of the Omicron variant at the end of last year caused participants who were expected to arrive between December and January 2022, having to postpone their departure. Some were even told not to come on the day of their departure.

Economic Loss

One of the participants in the JET program, Anna Burbo, was among those who experienced the delay. The woman from Michigan, United States was supposed to arrive in Japan this month.

The 25-year-old said the delay had left her under economic pressure and unable to find a new job due to uncertainty about when participants could fly. Around 600 participants, who could not enter Japan, raised concerns that there would be a reduction in opportunities for foreign exchange and education programs.

Bahia Simons-Lane, Executive Director of the JET Program Alumni Association called on Japan to be more flexible and implement its border policies. He also asked to make exceptions for some immigrants from abroad.