#JapanTravelBan Lift the travel ban on foreign nationals
#JapanTravelBan Lift the travel ban on foreign nationals
The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted countless lives around the world. In Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, countless students, workers, spouses and binational couples have been forced to put their lives on hold since the borders were closed in April 2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Since the fight against this pandemic began, countless students, workers, spouses and binational couples have had to endure a very long wait with little to no explanations or transparency from the Japanese government at all.
On April 3rd, 2020 Japan implemented a very strict limitation on who could enter the country, which affected people from more than 152 countries who were holders of visas and certificates of eligibility.
In October 2020 the border opened briefly to essential travellers such as international students, workers, spouses with a valid visa and business travellers through the implementation of the residence and business track system, requiring them to present a negative PCR test upon arrival, get tested at the airport and self-isolate for 14 days, however, the Government did not require nationals who came from abroad to go under the same preventive measures.
Due to this different treatment, in December 2020 a national who was not required to quarantine or present a negative PCR test introduced the UK variant into the country. The concern about the new variant prompted the Japanese Government to fully close the border to all foreign nationals again, including those with valid visas. Unfortunately for the international community, not all the students, spouses and workers who had been waiting to enter Japan for nearly a year were able to rush into the country in the short few days between December 26th, 2020, when the announcement was made, and January 4th, 2021, when the border closed for good. In addition to the short notice, immigration laws restricting foreign nationals from entering the country more than three months before their visa’s validity period did not allow many to enter the country by December. There were no exceptions introduced to accommodate the new immigration and family situations that arose surrounding the pandemic.
After the second ban was implemented, the Japanese government publicly linked it with the national state of emergency saying that the border closures would be in effect until the state of emergency was lifted. However, the state of emergency is set to expire on March 7th, yet the Japanese government has neither addressed the border closure nor has given us a schedule for the resumption of essential international travel. This has been a catastrophic blow for many legal immigrants, including students who are scheduled to start school on April 1st, workers who may lose their jobs, businesses who rely on foreign workers, and families and couples who have been forcibly separated for nearly a year.
Japanese Authorities have yet to clarify the situation of foreign nationals who have a valid reason to travel to Japan (students, workers, couples). However, on February 26th, 2021, they publicly declared their intent to open the borders to 80,000 incoming travellers associated with the Olympics following the end of the national state of emergency.
According to the draft of the new policy released by the media, the incoming Olympic athletes, coaches, journalists, and other personnel will not be required to observe the 14-day quarantine. We believe that the decision regarding the Olympic personnel directly contradicts scientific evidence regarding the spread of the virus and lacks constitutional and legal basis.
It is not sensible that a 2-week event is more essential than work, education and families, especially bearing in mind that the latter are Human Rights recognized by the Universal Charter Of Human Rights (arts. 16, 23 and 26) and the long wait we have had to endure in order to enter the country. Short-term visitors will be allowed without pandemic control preventions but foreign nationals who seek a mid-term, long-term or permanent stay will not be able to enter the country even if they get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, do we really need to be sacrificed in the name of the Olympics? If the Government can do more it can certainly do less, bringing 80.000 athletes means much more work and logistics than letting in people with essential reasons to be in Japan.
Allowing short-term Olympic visitors without pandemic control preventions while unconditionally banning foreign students, employees, and loved ones of Japanese citizens hurts not only foreign nationals, but Japanese schools and employers, the Japanese economy, and Japan’s international standing as an economic and cultural giant.
According to statistics only 1% of the COVID-19 infection cases reported in Japan have been linked to inbound travellers. Also, the spike of cases in December was linked to the Go-To travel domestic campaign which encouraged and subsidized domestic travel.
With the help of this community, we have started this petition to raise some awareness on how terribly this situation has affected hundreds of thousands of people's lives. We hope to emphasize that we are not tourists and do not ask to be treated as tourists, but rather as residents, taxpayers, and contributors to Japanese society. We have a lot to offer to Japan and we want to contribute to Japanese society and economy.
We do not expect special privileges, we are just asking to be allowed in the country while following all the safety and pandemic prevention measures. The precautions implemented by Japanese authorities during the phased border opening in late 2020, such as the two PCR tests, fourteen-day quarantine, and public transportation restrictions, would protect Japan as much as possible from COVID-19 without creating an undue burden on its legal foreign nationals. We respectfully request that the Japanese authorities consider resuming the phased reopening of international borders, bearing in mind our mutual commitment to humane safety measures, and humbly thank them for their attention to this matter.
Cumulative number of patients diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Japan as of January 15, 2021, by place of infection: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1100172/japan-confirmed-cases-of-coronavirus-by-place-of-infection/
Japan to begin allowing in foreign athletes, report says: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/27/national/tokyo-games-athletes-arrival/
Tourism push linked to surge in Japan's COVID-19 cases, study shows: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/22/national/go-to-travel-infections/
More transparency needed in Japan's virus border controls, justice minister says https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/31/national/kamikawa-border-controls/
Tokyo’s pandemic border policy highlights insecure status of foreign residents https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/