Japan eyes entry of 100,000 foreign students by end of May

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The government is considering allowing all international students who want to enter Japan to do so by the end of May, in response to the easing of pandemic-related border restrictions.

Using available airline seats on weekdays, the government aims to allow more than 100,000 people to enter the country, sources said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier announced a plan to increase the daily cap on international arrivals from about 5,000 to about 7,000, starting Monday. In addition to that figure, the government had said it would accept 1,000 foreign students daily through a separate quota.

The government is now considering a plan in which an estimated 8,000 foreign students would be able to enter Japan over the four days from Mondays through Thursdays, given the high availability of airline seats on weekdays. Over the three days from Fridays through Sundays, when relatively fewer seats are available, it expects 2,000 students could enter, for a total of 10,000 over the course of a week.

At this pace, the nation would be able to accept about 100,000 foreign students over approximately 10 weeks from mid-March to the end of May.

There are plans to incrementally raise the daily cap on international arrivals, while keeping a close eye on the capacity of airport quarantine systems and other factors. The quota for the entry of international students is expected to be expanded as well.

Due to the suspension of new entries by foreign nationals through the end of February as a measure against the coronavirus, about 150,000 foreign students are believed to have obtained residency status but have not been able to enter Japan. The government estimates that more than 100,000 of these students are seeking to enter Japan soon.

As part of efforts to promote the acceptance of foreign students, the education ministry’s Support Center for Entry of International Students will begin making airline reservations on behalf of foreign students in the near future.

The center, which provides consultation services related to studying abroad, will obtain information from universities and Japanese language schools on students’ preferences regarding flights, and arrange airline tickets through private companies to which it outsources its services.