Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Sven Kramer sends this update to a petition he launched against the Japanese Government’s Re-Entry Ban on visa-carrying NJ Residents, who were barred (unlike Japanese citizens) on an unscientific supposition that foreigners are more likely to carry Covid.  And this racist policy caused great hardship to many.

As of September 1, 2020, thanks in part to some impressive international and domestic protests, the Japanese Government as amended this ban. Now it’s no longer a blanket ban. Instead, there are extra hoops, including an exit permission and an unreasonable expectation of test results abroad (when domestic tests can reveal the same symptoms) that are only applied to foreigners, same as before.

Moreover, Japanese citizens are still treated as less likely to have disease, in spite of all the science that shows that Covid does not recognize differences in nationality. Consider this new report from the Japan Times, excerpting (courtesy of W):

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[…] Even so, entry procedures will differ for those abroad who are seeking re-entry and residents in Japan who are planning to leave… [sparking concerns that even legal residents may face deportation due to unclear and strict requirements that differ from those applied to residents with Japanese passports].

Non-Japanese who left Japan by the end of August will need to contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or diplomatic office to acquire a letter confirming they have valid visas and are allowed to return. Those who left as early as April 3 or after travel restrictions were imposed on their destinations, and were denied the right to return as their circumstances did not qualify for exceptional treatment, will also be able to obtain such certificates.

People who are planning to leave Japan after Sept.1 are required to give the Immigration Services Agency detailed plans on their itinerary and will be allowed to travel as soon as they receive a document confirming the request has been accepted. They will not need to apply for additional documents from an embassy or consular office.

The ISA has warned, however, that they may suspend document issuance for applicants seeking re-entry if testing capacity at airports is insufficient to handle all foreign travelers. Japan was planning to boost its testing capacity to 10,000 per day at the major international airports ー Haneda, Narita and Kansai.

The ISA is set to disclose an email address where requests for re-entry can be sent on its website at noon on Tuesday. Travelers will need to input their residence card number, nationality, and other details as stated on their passport, as well as details of the trip, including destination, planned departure and re-entry dates and information on which airports the traveler will use.

Residents planning to leave between Tuesday and Sunday are requested to share the date of their return during the departure procedure at the airport.

However, starting from September, all non-Japanese, including permanent residents, will be required to undergo specific tests for COVID-19 in accordance with Japan’s guidelines prior to their leaving for Japan. The government has warned that not complying may result in denied entry.

The Immigration Services Agency has claimed the strict conditions are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus in Japan. In contrast, however, Japanese nationals coming from abroad are not required to undergo pre-entry tests for COVID-19…

Full article at:https://www.japantimes.co.jp/?post_type=news&p=2739610
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Sven’s amended petition is below, forwarding with permission. Feel free to sign it. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27637556

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1

クラーマー スベン

Japan

SEP 1, 2020 — 

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1, 2020, and the future of this petition

Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.

However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.

Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.

The official documents in question by the Ministry of Justice of Japan:
“Regarding denial of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327574.pdf
“Additional Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures for the Entry of Re-entry of Foreign Nationals”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327575.pdf

Japanese Version:

令和2年9月1日開始の再入国拒否政策の緩和と今後の対応について

日本の中長期在留資格を有する外国人(外国籍の住民)は令和2年9月1日から水際対策が大幅緩和され、海外旅行の後で再入国できるようになりました。これは嬉しいこととして評価します。これで本陳情書の請願がほとんど叶いました。

しかし、本陳情書の重要な請願の一つ(外国籍住民と日本国籍保持者ならびに特別永住者との同等な待遇)にまだ適合していません。具体的には、外国籍住民だけ海外へ出国前に出入国在留管理庁に届け出なければなりません。なぜ有効な在留カードと通常の再入国許可だけで足りないのか、どこにも説明されていません。そして、8月5日からのルールと同じように、日本に帰る前に渡航先で出発前72時間以内に陰性のPCR検査の証明書を手に入れなければなりません(「外交」、「公務」、「特別永住者」という在留資格・身分を除く)。ただ、これは渡航先によってクリアできない条件です。症状がないと検査が受けられない国または検査結果が72時間以内に出ない国からの出発だったら、クリアできません。しかし、日本の空港でのPCR検査だけで十分のはずです。なぜかというと、住民は日本の健康保険に加入しており、仮に再入国時のPCR検査を陽性であっても、日本の健康保険を使った上日本の医療機関で治療を受ける権利があるはずです。

海外で出発前のPCR検査は新規に入国しようとする外国人に対して求めるべきだと考えております。すでに生活基盤を日本に築いたものに対する待遇であるべきではありません。よって、国籍を問わず日本の全住民に対して海外でのPCR検査を受ける義務が撤廃されるまで本陳情活動を続けます。

法務省HPからの史料:
新型コロナウイルス感染症の拡大防止に係る上陸拒否について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf
外国人の入国・再入国に係る追加的な防疫措置について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327504.pdf

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27 comments on “Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

  • Racist Japanese says:

    Japan being run by all racist old Japanese men is the biggest hurdle for our society to overcome. No vision, no insight, no drive to try to be less racist… old man culture of Japan must go!

    Reply
  • Thank you for blogging about this issue. Just for transparency, the initial Japanese version of my update – especially the second half of paragraph #2 – had some cringeworthy language errors, which I’ve corrected now.

    Reply
  • Louis Deveaux says:

    I live, work and pay taxes in Japan. My life is here now and has been that way for the past 7 years and being treated like a tourist is simply unacceptable.

    Reply
  • Christophe L says:

    Japan is a great great place to live.
    As long as you have no troubles it is one of the best.
    During this crisis, I feel very sad to be flagged by my residency place government as an “undesirable” and see families ripped appart because foreigners -regardless of their contribution to society- are not considered more than “long term tourists”.
    Is this the message that the world people and world economy is supposed to receive: japan is OK to not follow the rules they agreed ?
    It is a strong message for the world economy: do not go to Japan if you await fairness ? I hope I am proven wrong.

    Reply
  • Sven, Thank you for your diligence. The petition has been signed and forwarded to about 90 people (50% Japanese who agree with us).

    @Racist Japanese: Not sure about your name or your post but from the looks of how the current “election” is being held to replace Abe you are 100% correct (limiting who can vote in this election to those who will essentially tow the “party line”).

    The sad thing is this will hurt Japan in the long run and nearly all Japanese people I have spoke to think this immigration policy is 100% wrong, especially when the consider it separates families.

    I believe people’s perspectives are changing in Japan but the government is not changing and is not willing to change with the people. It is like China here more and more.

    Reply
    • spot on with the China comparison; I was already mentally making it after your second paragraph.

      I just wish the Japanese public would have the balls to stop voting for LDP and their spin of “safe pair of hands”.

      A vote for LDP is also a vote for nukes on faultlines….. Thats all that needs to be said.

      Also Abenomics, what a joke. Look at this graph here
      https://www.dailyfx.com/forex/market_alert/2016/05/18/Japanese-Economy-Recovers-in-1Q-GDP-Data-Investor-Unconvinced.html

      love how 1998 and 2015-18 are essentially the same little w shape of up and down into the red. Except 2015 is worse.
      https://tradingeconomics.com/japan/gdp

      or this one, hardly a glowing vindication either
      https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2019/10/30/japan-must-either-open-up-to-foreigners-or-face-economic-collapse/

      So, why vote LDP? I mean, really, Japanese people, why?

      Reply
      • Not to hijack the thread by going on about empty-suit-Shinzo, but I read an interesting article last week that said his only major ‘achievement’ was a long period of stability when what he promised (and Japan needs!) is structural change/reform.
        He was too weak to implement his own plan.

        Reply
        • BTW, that second link you posted was strangely calming. Japan is only 4.22% of the global economy, I guess I don’t have to worry about Japan’s debt crisis crashing the global economy.
          Abe’s legacy is this;
          He juiced the nikkei 225 by devaluing the ¥. Those companies aren’t suddenly worth twice as much as they were 8 years ago, the ¥ is just worth less. And with the BOJ continuing to use money from bonds issued against presumed future tax revenue to invest on the stock market and keep stock values from sagging under the weight of reality, Abe has left his successors no exit strategy that doesn’t crash the market and dump on the Japanese economy.

          Reply
        • I said it elsewhere but I have seen graphs of Japan’s GDP which are strikingly similar throughout. In 1998 there was a little rise fall rise fall pattern in the black and then back into the red, and exactly the same patterin in 2018.
          Long term, indistinguishable. Except that there were a couple of big drops under Abe, the obvious one being due to Covid, which I suppose is “shoganai”. A bit like how voters blamed the DPJ for 3.11 and the earthquake tsunami and voted for the LDP in droves, was that “shoganai” too?

          Anyway, so much for Abenomics.
          Abe-misnomer.

          Reply
        • “stability”? More like stagnation and power elite consolidation.
          “Nostalgic for the 80s? Find having to make a political choice “mendokusai”? Like familiarity? Then leave it the Erai Hito from famous elite families! Vote LDP. Everything will stay the same, frozen in time while Gaikoku moves on.”

          Reply
          • Well, this is the thing, isn’t it?
            Japan seems to have never heard ‘If you want things to stay the same, things have to change’ and insists on refusing change and watching things get worse.

            As for your other point, the media is pushing how ‘vigorous’ and healthy Suga is (compared to Abe) because he does ‘ 100 sit-ups everyday’.
            Meaningless. I’d rather know how many languages he speaks, and how many books he reads a month.

            Just what Japan needs; another old man with no experience outside of the same bubble all the old men before him were in.

          • Jim, funny that you’d mention the question of how many languages he speaks, or how many books he reads. I’d be inclined to agree at first, but allow me to share an anecdote about that sort of thing.

            Just yesterday, I discovered some teaching materials one of my superiors at work made. He’s a trilingual (Japanese, English, and French) who was born in Zimbabwe and attended international school as a child. Of course, he’s a Wajin.

            In the above-mentioned materials, he decided to take up racism as a topic, and surprise, surprise, he exclusively discussed America and Europe, even going as far as to dig up some random Wajin living in Europe during WW2 who apparently opposed the Nazis. Not even so much as a word about racism in our country, though.

            I sent him an e-mail pointing this out, stating it was odd that he would completely fail to even mention problems in our own country, and that discussing racism only in the context of America and Europe ran the risk of giving children the impression that racism was only a problem in “gaikoku.”

            He clearly got butthurt about what I said and ultimately defended his actions by declaring that teaching children about Japan’s racism problem might invite criticism against our company. He also explicitly stated that he objects to the word “Wajin,” despite being unable to suggest an alternative, and even criticized Dr. Arudou. In a nutshell, all the usual racist attitudes common to so many Wajin.

            In summary, unfortunately it would seem that neither foreign language skills nor experience living abroad do much to correct racist attitudes.

            Personally, the most open-minded Wajin I meet can only speak Japanese and have never been out of Japan.

            – What was his criticism of me?

          • Dr. Arudō, thanks for your question.

            His empty, intellectually dishonest criticism was just the kind of garbage one would expect. Despite declaring to me that he has “above-average awareness of Japan’s racism problem,” he also admitted that he’s not very familiar with you and your work. He only made two points.

            1) He described your lawsuit against the racists at the Otaru onsen as an “unfair tactic.” At the same time, he also stated that he felt that said racists were “idiots,” and that refusing “foreigners” entry to the onsen was “stupid,” but when I asked him what he thinks you should have done instead of filing a lawsuit, he was completely unable to provide any sort of answer.

            2) He claimed that your “Little Yellow Jap” protest was “racism.” I pointed out that you obviously created “Little Yellow Jap” for the express purpose of trying to help Wajin understand what it’s like to be belittled and discriminated against in the way that they were discriminating against blacks, and that I couldn’t help but feel he was deliberately ignoring this obvious purpose in the work. His argument was that even if someone punches you, punching them back is still “violence,” and thus protesting racism by creating an obviously satirical work that makes use of the very same racism still constitutes “racism.” I pointed out that there is a difference between violence and self-defense, and that it is obvious that the purpose of the protest was not to stir up anti-Wajin racist sentiment. He stood his ground despite having no meaningful rebuttal.

            To be completely fair, in his defense, he agreed with many points that I made, and he’s never been discriminatory or racist towards me personally. That being said, it boils down to a repeat of the same pattern we see so often–self-censorship for fear of reprisal from historical revisionists, racists, and their ultra right-wing buddies. It seems people with the courage to stand up and speak the truth, netouyo be damned, are few and far between.

            — Thanks. From what you’ve written, I don’t see it as a lack of courage or self-censorship. More like he’s working backwards from a conclusion that only Wajin can criticize Wajin racism. That keeps the discussion of Japan’s racism “within the family”. And if said Wajin refuses to criticize, oh well, that’s his choice. And for good measure, we’ll enforce that choice on Non-Wajin too.

            Anyway, clearly he’s done little research on my work beyond reading the Japanese version of the Wikipedia page on me. I might suggest he read my book “Japanese Only” in Japanese, but he probably won’t. After so many experiences he’s clearly comfortable with his world view, and won’t have the likes of us challenging it.

  • 72hours pcr test is a bit tight for Long haul flight includes transient flight. Why JP citizen no need to provide PCR test O

    Reply
  • I know an American who missed her father’s funeral last month but a British man who went to England in August. How was that possible? Is it just up to immigration at Narita?

    Reply
    • The UK has a “safe list” for certain countries, so if Japan was on the list, he could have entered the UK without quarantining. I presume you mean he was then allowed back to Japan? Must be a reciprocal agreement between certain countries.

      Reply
    • also, i know a Japanese bank exec allowed in to Europe as an “essential worker”, or specialist. he is the new CEO his bank applied for the speical visa on his behalf.
      He still had to do two weeks quarantine though.

      Reply
  • It’s worth noting that the Japanese health insurance also covers certain unexpected medical expenses while overseas.

    It works like this, you pay the full amount upfront to the foreign medical institution and when you go back to Japan you can apply for reimbursement within two years.
    I’m not sure if the 72-hour COVID test is covered, if you stay overseas for a long time and you need to take one before that, it could be.
    Check with your local City Hall, but if you do end up getting infected and need to stay at the hospital your J health insurance should be able to cover the 60-or-so percent part of it.
    https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/toko/kaigai/nenkin_hoken/index.html

    Reply
  • This is all too much for me. Feels like my PR is as worthless and on the same level as a tourist visa. I have been here for 30 years and am now going to get my Japanese passport so I can’t be treated as a tourist any longer.

    Reply
    • Maybe this is all about. Produce second class citizens ( Otaru Onsen case or a foreigner citizen stopped by Police detained for not carrying zaryu card and then realized and apologized etc. )
      The positive aspect:
      free to move as you like
      no more being fingerprinted each time
      case like these days
      and who knows next all foreigners will be required to show they are vaccinated before come to Japan incl. tourists. Even though other countries may not make vaccination compulsory, beautiful Japan will make people get a shot of something that is undeveloped and prosperity researched.

      Reply
    • I wouldn’t become a JP citizen if I were you. You’ll still be treated as an outsider – even with a JP passport. Glad I don’t have one.

      Had enough of this country.and can’t wait to leave.

      Reply
      • I became a citizen and I am not regretting my decision at all. Quite the opposite, to me, I felt that one of the benefits of having citizenship is being able to talk more freely about politics and prejudice in the country without being pointed as “kankei nai”. Also, at least in my case, I am being treated as equal by all my friends and coworkers. But as I don`t have an Asian face, every time I have to introduce myself to a new person, I have to kind of explain that I am Japanese (maybe that`s what you meant by being treated as a foreigner)…. but I think that even that part will get rarer, as more people naturalize in the country.
        Hope things get better to you in Japan and/or in your other home.

        Reply
  • Yes, this policy is clearly discriminatory.

    However I will say this.

    A young lady I know who is a Japanese citizen and was visited Germany for a couple of weeks was required to take a the PCR test prior to re-entering Japan and actually had her approval delayed requiring her to reschedule her flight home.

    So, it seems this particular requirement is being applied to citizens too.

    Reply
    • It’s not. It might be the airlines that require this. I picked up my confirmation letter from the Embassy. My Japanese wife was with me. However only I was asked to schedule PCR 72h before flight, not before the date I land in Japan. On the J Embassy website they write the following using text in red “Japanese Citizens are not required to take PCR test prior to return to Japan”. Then we checked the Airlines website. They write that all they need is sign a paper that you don’t have any symptoms. However me, must show all the papers required by J Gov. I still call discrimination. My wife may say I’m fine as other Japanese. Anyway airlines are not allowed bring more than 50 people. There are only 5 staff at Narita who test people.

      Reply
    • „They will be tested again upon entering Japan, and will have their movements monitored and restricted after arrival. […] Athletes will be able to practice or compete in the 14-day quarantine period after arrival, but their movements will be limited to accommodations and venues specific to training and competing in their specific sports, in accordance with travel plans submitted to authorities in advance.“

      Am I the only one who fears a distortion of competition? Because to me this looks like foreign athletes will only be able to train at facilities which are approved by the Japanese government, while Japanese athletes will be able to train and go wherever they want to. Maybe I‘m a bit paranoid, but what if the Japanese government provides foreign athletes with bad facilities, while Japanese athletes get the good ones, because they can chose their own facilities and don‘t have to rely on the government for approval. Limiting the movement of foreign athletes and monitoring them 24/7 is also going to impact them negatively. It looks like Japanese athletes will have an advantage if this plan should be implemented. And yes, what happens to coaches, medical staff, sponsors, IOC members etc.? What a joke all of this is. Japan is going „full China“ with this kind of constantly monitoring foreigners. Seriously, if they hate us so much, why do they keep bidding for events like the Olympics, or the football (or soccer if you prefer the American term) and Rugby World Cup? Every time such events take place in Japan, foreign residents have to suffer because racial profiling by police skyrockets. And now due to corona, things are even worse. I really hope that some athletes just boycott these Olympics. These restrictions placed on foreign athletes just aren‘t fair.

      Reply

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