Japanese universities are scrambling to explain to their students abroad the country’s latest ban on foreign newcomers.
Toyo University in Tokyo has been processing admissions applications for around 80 students since the government resumed accepting foreign students on November 8. They had been forced to take online courses outside of Japan.
As the new ban took effect on Tuesday, university officials spoke online with students planning to enter Japan between January and March next year.
Officials promised to keep students informed and continue to offer them support.
A student in Indonesia said he was frustrated because some countries remain open to foreign students. He pleaded for being able to study in Japan, saying he would take PCR tests every day and submit all the necessary documents. He said the lives of the students depended on the Japanese government.
A student in Russia said that denying entry to students, who are not tourists, is unfair and discriminatory. She said the six-hour time difference with Japan kept her awake at night and asleep during the day, making it difficult for her to see friends or find a part-time job. She said she booked three flights but had to cancel all of them. The ban makes her lose her desire to study, she said.
A student in Madagascar said she had difficulty with online classes because she had limited internet access and couldn’t understand what was being discussed. She said she couldn’t spend time with her family as she had to change her daily routine to match class times in Japan.
She said she dreamed of becoming a bridge between Japan and Madagascar, but it’s difficult now because she can’t make friends.
Toyo University has accepted around 400 foreign students in recent years.
The university’s international exchange dormitory, intended to be shared by the same number of Japanese and foreign students, is expected to be completed in January. But half of its 300 rooms will likely be empty.
Takahashi Kiyotaka, director of the university’s international affairs office, says surveys show that many foreign students who hope to find work in Japan are worried about their future. He says he wants the government to lift the entry ban as soon as possible.