Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

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Hi Blog.  I mentioned this petition in my previous post, but it was subsumed under the Dejima Award headline.  It deserves its own blog entry, so here it is.  Sign the petition.  I did.  Courtesy of TG.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: Sven Kramer 
Date: June 3, 2020 
To: eajs-l@listserv.shuttle.de
Subject: EAJS-L: Online petition against Japan’s generic reentry ban on foreigners living in Japan even after essential travels that is in effect since April 3, 2020

Dear fellow EAJS members,

I hope this finds you well, and that you are getting through the current public health crisis well and healthy. I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj

Why an open online petition? Because the Japanese government, and also other officialdom at other levels, just show ignorance when addressed directly.

I sincerely want to ask you for your support of this petition for the reasons stated in the bilingual text of the petition, especially if you are a Japanese citizen or an expat with his/her livelihood in Japan.

This is – as mentioned above – an entirely private initiative on my behalf as a long-term foreign resident of Japan with Japanese family. This is the reason why I did not do any statements referring to my current professional situation, neither in this letter, nor in the petition. Please understand. If you want to know more about my background, please feel free to ask me directly.

Here is a short summary of my request:
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.

If a significant number of people sign (ideally at least some tens of thousands) I will try to get the petition to the Government of Japan.

Thank you very much!

Best regards,
Sven Kramer, PhD

P.S.: Further articles in English dealing with this topic:
Japan Times: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/19/national/social-issues/japan-foreign-residents-stranded-abroad-coronavirus/ 
Japan Today: https://japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/the-line-should-be-drawn-between-foreigners-on-short-stay-visas-and-those-who-stay-in-japan-based-on-other-statuses-of-residence.-those-whose-lives-are-based-in-japan-need-to-be-able-to-return

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10 comments on “Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

  • Anonymous says:

    These moments are great examples of what described Anthony de Jasay in his book “The State” :

    What’s wrong with the state?

    The central argument of the book is that, in a society of non-identical individuals, preferences and interests will differ, so the state cannot simultaneously protect the interests of everybody equally; it must choose which interests to further, and which ones to ignore or crush. This fundamental idea seems so obvious, or at least so challenging, once clearly expressed it is surprising how it can have escaped so many analysts.

    In practice, the state is who happens to run it, what de Jasay calls its tenants. One can view the tenants of the state as the inner circle of political and security rulers. The interests of these people are primarily what the state maximizes; but to stay in power, it must also promote the interests of those whose support it needs to stay in power.

    Reply
    • Jim Di Griz says:

      There is no such thing as ‘the state’. It’s a term used to gaslight the citizenry into upholding a status quo of the vested interests exploiting society. Notice how their goal is always ‘stability’, even when drastic change is desperately needed to improve quality of citizens lives or even the survival of the environment.
      The founding principle of government is to protect property from the majority…

      Reply
    • Wow! Thank you for this knowledge. Very intelligent remark and seems to be an interesting book to read from just that small excerpt.

      I thought this is also an interesting quote that sort of echoes what your comment:

      “So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.”

      “For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves, for they see their own wit at hand, and other men’s at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of any thing than that every man is contented with his share.”

      – Thomas Hobbes

      Reply
  • Hi Sven

    Congratulations on having your petition noted in this way! Really good stuff!!

    However, please keep your very good petition up!!! See my link below.

    In my opinion what Japan has done is not good enough. What is necessary is to change Article 5, paragraph (1), item (xiv) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and remove note 3 so it is not necessary for those married to Japanese nationals to apply for special permission from the government to leave Japan and return to their home. The racist law still exists as we require special permission from the government to leave and return to our home. This should be expanded to Permanent Residents as well.

    The above law indirectly violates the Constitutional Rights of Japanese who are married to a foreign spouse.

    http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001316999.pdf

    Reply
    • Sven Kramer says:

      Hi Dave,

      thank you for your kind words. Don’t worry. The petition won’t go away until Japan announces the introduction of something that resembles the policy of its six G7 peers.

      But, I fear requesting the change of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is far beyond the scope of this petition. Such an ambitious project should be carried out and coordinated by a dedicated NGO founded and run by Japanese citizens with international spouses, their spouses, and permanent residents, namely the people directly involved as a coordinated group.

      The fact that this petition, started by me as an individual alone, could gather this much attention, just shows, how ridiculous the current policy really is.

      Reply
  • Makpa Adi says:

    This is very good initiation – the problem must be heard. The Japanese Government should realise that this decision is a big mistake.
    If it is possible can I please ask a little bit modify the petition or add information regarding those people who were not able to receive a visa in time. I mean for example in march I was applying for dependant visa ( I have a certificate of eligibility), but I still my visa application is suspended. My family in Japan, but I can not enter country – just because I didn’t apply for a visa in time. It is very unfair.

    Reply

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