Following the suspension of issuance of student and researcher visas, more than 650 academics and students from institutions in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries have urged the Japanese government to finally resume the needed process.
Paul Hastings, the executive director of an independent educational foundation based in New York City, the Japan ICU Foundation, has led the group of academics, professionals, and students in submitting a petition to Kanji Yamanouchi, the Japanese consul general in New York.
- A group of academics, professionals, and students submitted a petition to the Japanese consul general in New York.
- The petition urges the Japanese government to resume the issuance of student and researcher visas.
- The group cited that Japan’s lack of reciprocity in accepting international students and researchers damages Japanese education institutions’ global partnerships.
Students and professors from renowned academic institutions such as Harvard University, Princeton University, and Columbia University in the United States; Kyoto University, International Christian University, Keio University in Japan; and Cardiff University in Britain have signed the petition.
The key message of the petition is to warn that the ban on new visas “has eroded the global relationships and reputations of Japan’s educational institutions.”
The group has pointed out that there is a lack of reciprocity since while Japan has started sending its researchers and international students abroad, it does not receive students and academics in return.
In the petition addressed to the Japanese consul general in New York, such a lack of mutual understanding between Japanese universities and educational institutions in other countries may further the erosion of international partnerships.
Japan stopped giving visas to foreign students in January in line with the implementation of a strict border control policy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Out of the Group of Seven (G7) nations, Japan is the only country that is yet to issue visas for international students.
This has caused a decrease in the number of foreign students coming to Japan. According to Japan’s Immigration Services Agency, there were only around 7,000 new international students who entered the country from January to June, an 88.5 percent downsurge from the same period in 2019 before the start of the pandemic.
For students who will attend the new school year that starts in September, Japan has set a priority for all students leaving for studies abroad for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Finally, the petition noted that the decreasing number of international student intakes is a reversal of the progress made in the internationalization of Japanese institutions.
Now that the country is observing a gradual decrease in COVID-19 infections, it is anticipated that the Japanese government will be easing travel restrictions soon and will respond to the demands of international students, academics, and researchers.
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