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Corona pandemic: Japan remains strictly isolated

Status: 11.12.2021 5:06 PM

For almost two years, Japan has allowed almost no one into the country – only as a G7 country. Students or people wanting to work in Japan are suffering from this. But despite the rebuke of WHO, the government has stood firm.

By Katherine Erdman, ARD Studio Tokyo

Tübingen’s Alisa put everything at stake on Japan. She studied English and German and wanted to teach in a Japanese language school. Instead, she now waits at her parents’ Asian restaurant.

She has been waiting for entry visa for almost two years. “I love Japan, I’m trying to learn the language and culture, and now my love for the country is waning because I feel a little lonely. I wish I had a plan,” says Alisa . To date, he has no concrete view.

Distance learning in tough times

Mathias is similar to him – he wanted to complete his compulsory semester abroad in Japan for his study of Intercultural Communication at the University of Dresden. It became distance learning with dark circles.

“The semester consisted of classes from one in the morning to one in the afternoon. It was not possible to do something efficient like a part-time job because of the time difference and everything,” says Mathias.

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Japanese should be quarantined upon return

Alisa and Mathias both have partners in Japan they haven’t seen in ages, because for Japanese people, returning to their homeland involves quarantine and many people cannot afford it professionally.

Both understand Japan’s strict entry requirements – but they resent that there are no exceptions for people with employment contracts or students, as is the case for Japanese who travel to Europe.

Alisa says, “I think it’s really great that we welcome Japanese students, workers, and family members to Europe. But there’s no reciprocity, and I think that’s a shame.”

protest – without success

Like Alisa, Mathias has already written several letters to officials and embassies and joined networks that oppose entry restrictions. But till now there is no success. Germany, the European Union – all are silent, no one criticizes Japan out loud.

“The fact that it’s all accepted and accepted and people don’t say: it doesn’t work because it’s a bilateral agreement and our students deserve something too. Nothing comes from the government – It’s something I’m so frustrated about and I can’t explain it,” says Matthias.

Even Japan’s small opening window in November did not give 100 people the opportunity to enter the country because of so many papers to fill out and submit.

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It is thanks to David Rossi, an Italian living in Japan, that the Japanese media are also now reporting on the problem. The student advisor has organized several protests.

Affected people have no chances

He has heard many stories about suffering in the past and says: “I think someone here in Europe needs to find clear words – a politician or a public voice – and at least the reopening of borders from Japan.” Or ask people to give you a perspective on the time to be recruited.”

Rossi is fully aware of Japan’s caution, but defends himself against arbitrariness and demands equal entry opportunities for all. “The virus doesn’t look at your passport. The risk of bringing the virus into the country is always the same, whether you’re Japanese or a foreigner.”

Despite the WHO’s rebuke in Japan, people have seen it differently so far. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to show his determination to close the border. Till now people have thanked him with good approval rating.

Borders tightened in Japan: Germans disappointed with situation

Katherine Erdman, ARD Tokyo, December 11, 2021 4:03 PM

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