of 5,000 signatures

To Kamikawa Yoko, Minister of Justice

Open letter text

May 21, 2021

Kamikawa Yoko, Minister of Justice

We are a group of academics, either employed at Japanese institutions or working in areas related to Japan, who are concerned about current Japanese border policies, both professionally and personally. This letter demands that the Ministry of Justice of Japan reopen applications for long-term visas and open borders to long-term visa holders and their partners and family members. We also demand more transparency regarding border control procedures.


Currently, the borders are closed to all but Japanese passport holders and current long-term visa holders as of January, 2021. There have been slight shifts and exceptions, for example for those with Japanese government scholarships or those married to Japanese-passport holders. But many whose visas were in process remain in limbo, with their lives on hold until the policy changes, without any indication of when or whether this change might happen.


As educators, the current situation is extremely concerning. We worry about our students’ well being and learning outcomes. Undergraduate and graduate students stuck overseas and forced to attend online classes at absurd hours are underslept. Students who cannot enter to begin their studies are endlessly postponing their travel, unwillingly changing their research project, and losing their scholarships. They are postponing their futures, putting their lives on hold, and watching their financial resources dwindle. The whole situation puts students expecting to study in Japan under extreme stress. Some have already been forced to abandon their plans to come to Japan at all.


Our students are suffering. Our institutions have no clear guidance or support from the government. We are also suffering. We have no way to know when we will see our families, our communities, our loved ones abroad, or when they will be able to come to us, especially when their connections to us are not legible to the Japanese government (as with the case of unmarried couples or married same-sex partners whose relationships are not recognized by current Japanese law). This is a denial of our needs as human beings. Further, since these policies have also not proven effective in limiting the spread of COVID and its more recent variants, their stated rationale has no merit. This is especially true given that tens of thousands of people will be admitted for the Olympics. The current policy reinforces a xenophobic understanding of disease transmission and contamination, an attitude that we worry will result in other discriminatory behaviour towards those considered “foreign.” It is time to change.


We thus demand these changes in current border policies: that the Ministry of Justice of Japan immediately reopen applications for long-term visas, and open borders to long-term visa holders and their partners and family members.



Chelsea Szendi Schieder (Professor, Faculty of Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University)
Elin McCready (Professor, Faculty of Literature, Aoyama Gakuin University)
Iris Haukamp (Lecturer, World Languages and Society Education Center, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
Nobuo Haruna (Associate Professor, Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
Rin Odawara (Associate Professor, Institute of Global Area Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

マクレディ、エリン(教授・青山学院大学 文学部)
小田原琳 (准教授・大学院総合国際学研究院)

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Signers list

Emily Bernier
Ayumi Miyozaki
Amelie-Marie Nishizawa
Chong Xian Ren
Ellen Smith
Dennis Grinwald
Nischal Pokhrel
Christina Kalaitzi
Vanara Florêncio Passos
Saito Tamaki
Woo Yan San
Thaís Assis
Christopher Cruz
Park Sei
Kamal Thapa Kharu Magar
Pauline Teupke
Gabriel Yohannes
Ganga Basnet
Muhammad Junayed Kabir
Andira Bulan Nandinanti
Eva Guido
Suzuki Chihiro
Renata Oliveira de Sousa
Oscar Adolfo Rondan Rojas
Bartholomeus Bismo Baruno
Muna Bharati
Robert Johnson
Hara Koulouri
Ganga Ram Basnet
Rebeca Gómez Morilla
Apsara Bohora
Franklin Joe Kanna
Isabelle de Cointet
Asami Harikae
Rob Leech
Hee Won Wang
Sushant Dewan
Purna Bahadur Dangi
Alexander Eicker
Alina Stefanowski
Chelsea Szendi Schieder
Jose Fernandez
Jennifer Coates
Erik Johansson
Lukas Hitschfeld
Vesela Georgieva

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