TOKYO, Japan — Following the removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions in March, Japan decided to ease admission screenings in order to accommodate a large number of international students anxious to begin studying in the country.

Japan’s de facto entrance restriction, which has kept foreign students and employees out for over two years, will be eased, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. However, students and host colleges are concerned that the country’s extensive admission screening process would cause significant delays in their arrival.

In an interview with reporters on Friday, Education Minister Shinsuke Suematsu mentioned the enormous number of overseas students waiting to enter Japan.

Suematsu stated, “I’ll work closely with relevant organisations to fix the problem and ensure that every student is permitted to enter the nation.”

Universities that admit overseas students must produce six tangible papers, including a written promise, an activity calendar, and a passport copy, according to current regulations. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology is one of the government bodies participating in the clearance process.

The government has decided to combine the screening procedure under one government agency and allow all paperwork to be filed online in response to pleas for simplicity.

Previously, the screenings were done in the sequence in which the resident permits were given out. However, in the future, the timing will be set by the plans of the pupils.

In November, the government opened its borders to overseas students, only to close them again at the end of the month due to a surge of illnesses caused by the omicron variety.

Due of the rigorous documentation required for admittance, only a few pupils were allowed to enter within that limited time.

Since the prime minister’s declaration on Thursday, overseas students have bombarded Tokyo University of Foreign Studies with queries. “Can you tell me when I’ll be allowed to come?” According to the school, some of the questions were “Is it OK to purchase an airline ticket?” and “Is it OK to purchase an airline ticket?”

“At this moment, we don’t have any clear information, so we’re effectively unable to give advise,” said a member of the university’s foreign student support team. “I’m hoping [the government] clarifies the processes as soon as possible.”

According to the Immigration Services Agency, new arrivals on student visas totaled more than 120,000 every year between 2017 and 2019. In 2020, the number fell to 49,748 individuals, and in November of last year, it fell to 11,639 persons.

Meanwhile, according to the Immigration Services Agency, there were 152,000 overseas students who had been granted residence but were still waiting to enter Japan as of Jan. 4.

In November, 90 foreign students were waiting in their home countries at Akita International University in northern Japan. Following the government’s decision to reopen the borders, around 50 students opted to cancel their intentions to study in Japan.

“I’m delighted the limits are loosening, but the gate is still small,” Akita International University vice director Hiroyuki Yoneta remarked.

At the earliest, the institution intends to begin enrolling overseas students in May, following Golden Week.

“Students will continue to worry when they can come to Japan because of the limited number of entry authorised,” Yoneta said. “It’s possible that our relationships with nations with whom we have student exchange agreements would suffer.”

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