Japanese institute to receive international academics as exception to COVID rules
An institution affiliated with the Japanese government will resume receiving dozens of foreign researchers next Thursday, even if entry restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic remain, an official said.
A total of 55 Japanese studies scholars, including those from other countries in Asia, Europe and the United States, are expected to arrive in Japan that day, followed by others likely in November and December, according to the responsible for the Japan Foundation.
The move comes as Japan’s strict travel restrictions have drawn international criticism, while European countries and the United States have resumed accepting foreign researchers amid an improving COVID-19 situation.
Photo taken on October 23, 2021, shows the headquarters of the Japan Foundation in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. (Kyodo)
The foundation, affiliated with the Foreign Ministry, hopes that the resumption will revive academic exchanges between Japan and other countries.
“The country has been ‘closed’ for a long time but the light on Japanese studies (abroad) should not be turned off,” said the official, who requested anonymity.
In principle, Japan still prohibits the entry of people from 160 countries and regions with a few exceptions, including those from China and South Korea.
The foundation, the only entity in the country dedicated to carrying out cultural exchange programs on a global scale, had selected the 55 researchers in June.
He was carefully considering the timing of their arrival based on the COVID-19 situation in Japan, which is now experiencing a sharp drop in the number of infections.
It invites foreign scholars with financial support through Japanese scholarships. About 120 people come to Japan as part of the program in the usual years.
At the foundation’s request, Japanese government officials have allowed the entry of academics on an exceptional basis, the official said.
Participants in the scholarship program include researchers in the fields of Japanese culture, politics and economics, some working on their doctoral theses.
They will conduct studies for approximately two to 12 months in cooperation with universities and other academic institutions in Japan.
Regarding university exchanges in Japan, the issuance of new visas for international students has been suspended, except for state sponsored students.
The Japan Association of National Universities and the Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges have urged the government to ease entry restrictions.
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