Most international students waiting to study in Japan are likely to be able to enter the country by the end of May as a new priority entry program is set to begin amid looser COVID-19 border controls. , the government spokesman said on Wednesday.
The program will launch in mid-March, ahead of the start of the new academic year in April, allocating empty seats on weekday flights to international students wishing to study in Japan. The launch will mean around 1,000 students will be able to arrive in addition to the daily enrollment cap, which will be raised to 7,000 from Monday.
“We expect the entry of these students (who wish to study in Japan) to be realized to a large extent by the end of May,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters during the meeting. of a press briefing.
About 150,000 foreign students were unable to enter Japan. It is unclear how many of them still want to study in Japan, he said, adding that the program to be launched is designed to allow foreign students to enter Japan “regularly”.
Meanwhile, Taro Kono, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s public relations headquarters, wrote on Twitter on the same day that the Ministry of Education “now plans to bring 10,000 foreign students a week to Japan.”
“100,000 students are expected to come to Japanese schools,” he said, adding that the ministry wanted them by the end of May.
After facing a barrage of criticism at home and abroad for its COVID-19 border controls, Japan has loosened rules in recent weeks, opening its doors again to some nonresident foreign nationals.
Still, the country maintains a daily cap on participants, including returning Japanese nationals, currently set at 5,000.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aims to ease restrictions “in stages”, taking into account the infection situation inside and outside the country and border control measures implemented by other countries .
“It is extremely important for us to accept foreign students in order to improve our country’s educational and research capabilities and establish friendly relations with various nations,” Matsuno said.
Japan is still grappling with the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus with 18 of the country’s 47 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, placed under near-emergency anti-virus restrictions until March 21 in hopes that the pace of new confirmed COVID-19 cases will slow and the strain on the medical system will ease.
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