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Students Prohibited from Entering Japan

Haneda airport check-in hall is almost completely empty of people, except for worker on segway and a lone bystander.
The empty check-in hall at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on November 30. Credit Carl Court/Getty Images

December 2, 2021

The Japanese government made the decision this week to close its borders to foreign travelers. This is a set-back of huge proportions for Japan, but travelers — students in particular — as well.  The decision was made out of concern about new COVID-19 variants spreading in other parts of the world and intended to prioritize the safety of citizens and others within the borders of Japan. For students accepted to the Inter-University Center for Intensive Language study (IUC), a program in Yokohama which is supported by a consortium of U.S. universities including the UW, it is the worst possible timing.  IUC had worked tirelessly to advocate for students to get visas to enter Japan. Students were ready and had planned to enter Japan on December 1, a date set weeks ago by the government in coordination with IUC. But, the new closure came just one day before departure. “My former advisee is beyond devastated. He lost his apartment in the U-District” remarked Professor Davinder Bhowmik. Indeed, all students who were planning to live for the next year in Japan must scramble to make new arrangements as well as consider their options for remote learning, which is a much different experience than the immersion experience of living and studying abroad. We hope that the opportunity for students to go to Japan comes quickly and travel may resume as soon as possible.