Plan could allow all foreign students waiting for entry to be in Japan by mid-summer.

Monday marks a big step in Japan’s path to reopening its borders. Currently, as part of its coronavirus countermeasures, Japan caps the number of inbound travelers permitted at 5,000 per day, but on March 14 that number will rise to 7,000.

Except, on most days, the real number of people Japan will allow into the country is going to be 8,000, with those extra 1,000 slots exclusively available to foreign students coming to study in Japan.

The plan, announced by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, is to utilize a portion of the empty seats on airplanes arriving in Japan on Monday through Thursday, when business and governmental travel is generally lighter. Ostensibly, this would mean a greater number of empty seats per plane on the flights collectively maxing out the 7,000-person-per-day limit. Apparently the ministry believes those less congested conditions will minimize the risk of in-transit infections enough to raise the number of people allowed into Japan daily to 8,000 between Monday and Thursday.

Foreign students won’t be excluded from entering as part of the normally allowed 7,000 people per day, either. The extra 1,000 for-students-only slots are in addition to their normal entry eligibility.

The ministry hopes that the system will allow for the entry of approximately 10,000 foreign students per week. Estimates of the number of overseas applicants who have been accepted to schools in Japan but have not been able to enter the country range from 110,000 to 150,000, so if the framework functions as planned, they hope to have all of them in-country by the end of spring or early summer.

There’s also good news for foreign students who are already in Japan but feeling a financial pinch. In light of the negative effects of the pandemic on the service sector, in which many foreign students work part time to supplement their living costs in Japan, the government is launching a financial aid program offering 100,000 yen (US$870) to in-Japan foreign students who have been unable to find part-time employment.

Those interested in applying for either the for-foreign-students entry slots or financial aid payment are asked to contact the school in Japan they have been accepted to/are enrolled in to stat the process.

Sources: NHK, TBS News, Yomiuri Shimbun Online
Top image: Pakutaso
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