Travel bans throttle Japanese universities’ global ambitions
Japan Times -- Aug 15
When Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in 2012 for his work on stem cells, Edvinas Cerniauskas, then 21, became interested in the field and soon began to plan how he could come to Japan and study at the cutting edge.

His dream was becoming reality when he was accepted to Kyoto University — where he intends to pursue a doctorate at Yamanaka’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application — and received a scholarship from the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry (MEXT).

He had quit his job at a stem cell laboratory in the U.K. and returned to his native Lithuania to prepare to come to Japan in April, when the country imposed travel restrictions to curb COVID-19 infections.

Since then, Cerniauskas has been waking up daily to attend 4 a.m. remote, intensive language courses via Zoom provided by Kyoto University. The schedule has taken a toll on his health and caused him to lose more than 10 kilograms.

Because new visas are not being issued for international students amid the pandemic and he is not physically in Japan, he isn’t receiving his scholarship’s stipend and has been relying on his savings for his living expenses.

The government imposed a travel restriction denying re-entry to long-term and permanent foreign residents who departed Japan on April 3 and after (the date depends on the country they went to). While on Aug. 5 the government started allowing the re-entry of those who departed Japan before the designated dates, restrictions are still in place for foreign residents who departed after that. The government has also stopped issuing new visas to foreign nationals wishing to enter Japan for the first time, including foreign students, putting them in limbo.

News source: Japan Times
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