By JUN MIURA/ Staff Writer
Japan made clear it will not give preferential treatment to students stuck overseas when it relaxes its COVID-19 entry ban on nonresident foreign nationals from March 1.
Students desperate to come to Japan have been clamoring for months for a break in border restrictions, but education minister Shinsuke Suematsu said at a Feb. 18 news conference “it will take considerable time” before all those who want to enter can do so.
The government has decided to allow 5,000 foreign nationals to enter Japan each day when the rules are eased, up from the current ceiling of 3,500.
However, the quota will cover not only foreign students, but also businesspeople and those signed up for technical intern training programs.
Around 150,000 foreign students with valid visas are awaiting entry, according to the Immigration Services Agency.
Those with the earliest confirmed flight reservations to Japan will likely be the first allowed in as no priority will be given to residence status, authorities said.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the relaxed entry measures on Feb. 17.
Restrictions on entry created a large backlog of foreign nationals with approved visas who were unable to enter the country.
The number since January 2020 has risen to about 407,000. Foreign students account for 152,000, but there are also 129,000 non-Japanese waiting to enter to take part in technical intern training programs.