Japan

Japan’s COVID-19 foreign entry ban spurs demonstrations in several countries

A man wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street lined with bars and restaurants in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Restaurants and bars will close early in Tokyo and a dozen other areas across Japan beginning Friday as the country widens COVID-19 restrictions due to the omicron variant causing cases to surge to new highs in metropolitan areas. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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Demonstrations against Japan’s tight border restrictions on nonresident foreigners implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been staged in several countries, with people urging the Japanese government to reconsider the measures they have dubbed as lacking a scientific basis.

Protests initiated by “Stop Japan’s Ban,” a group launched on Twitter, began Tuesday, as foreign exchange students and business people barred from entering the country gathered at various locations such as in front of Japanese embassies in a string of countries including Mongolia, Poland, India and Malaysia.

The move came amid an anti-coronavirus entry ban that has been in place since Nov. 30, with Japan confirming its first case of the Omicron variant later that day. This month, the entry ban was further extended until the end of February.

More protests are in the works this month in countries such as Germany, Austria, Spain and Argentina, as well as in Tokyo in front of the Japanese prime minister’s office in February, according to organizers.

Demonstrators claim most exchange students have had COVID-19 booster shots and would adhere to necessary anti-virus measures when in Japan, and urged the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to tell them clearly when all foreigners would be allowed to enter again.

Some participants in the demonstrations have also uploaded pictures of placards indicating how many days they had been stuck in limbo.

Jade Barry, one of the organizers, had planned to arrive in Japan in January this year to open a variety store and had completed PCR tests as well as vaccinations, but plans went awry due to the tighter border controls.

Barry in Illinois said limiting entries to a small fraction of the exchange students was a narrow-minded move and had no scientific basis.

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