Japon – Les résidents étrangers pourront entrer et sortir du pays à partir de septembre

Les résidents étrangers du Japon vont être contents. Après des mois de pressions, critiques, le gouvernement japonais a annoncé qu’il allait lever les restrictions de déplacements des résidents étrangers pour entrer et sortir du pays. Cependant, autant la sortie du Japon n’entrainera pas de conditions particulières, autant le retour sur le territoire sera assorties de conditions notamment de justifier d’un test négatif au COVID-19. Ainsi à partir du 1er septembre, les résidents étrangers souhaitant revenir au Japon devront fournir un test négatif au COVID-19 et observer une période de quarantaine de 14 jours comme c’est la règle à l’heure actuelle pour les ressortissants japonais venant de l’étranger.

Le gouvernement a également indiqué travailler sur la possibilité de délivrer des visas pour les hommes d’affaires.

Ces annonces font suite à de nombreuses critiques de la part de communautés étrangères vivant au Japon, mais aussi d’organisations ou d’entreprises se trouvant fortement affectées par les restrictions d’accès au territoire japonais. Beaucoup de résidents étrangers bloqués au Japon ou dans leur pays d’origine n’ont pu se déplacer ces derniers mois et se sont sentis discriminés par rapport aux Japonais.

Cette nouvelle procédure pourra s’appliquer aux ressortissants des « 159 pays bannis du Japon » du moment qu’ils ont le statut de résident permanent au Japon. Au 13 aout 2020, ce sont près de 192 000 résidents étrangers qui se trouvaient en dehors du Japon. Il y aurait au total 2,63 millions d’étrangers avec un visa valide au Japon, sans compter les diplomates et des résidents permanents avec un statut particulier originaire de Corée du Sud et de Taïwan, qui seraient concernés par les mesures de restrictions d’entrée sur le territoire.

L’autre bonne nouvelle, c’est que le traitement des demandes de visas pour les étudiants étrangers va également reprendre bientôt avec une priorité pour ceux bénéficiant d’une bourse du gouvernement japonais.

Japan is also set to allow entry to non-Japanese whose visas have been already processed but who could not enter the country to start educational courses or work.

International business groups from Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand have repeatedly called on Japan to relax the entry barriers, which have significantly affected foreign-owned companies and businesses in Japan relying on international workers.

Japan is gradually opening its borders to business travelers including those seeking new visas, with priority to be given to countries that have been relatively successful in bringing the pandemic under control. The government has been in talks with around 13 countries including New Zealand, Australia and China about resuming business travel, but so far it has begun to accept business travelers only from Thailand and Vietnam. Between Aug. 17 and Aug. 23, 160 Thai and Vietnamese were allowed entry under the plan aimed at businesspeople.

The government said that from September it will start letting in business travelers from Singapore as well as Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Japan heavily relies on workers from Southeast Asia, who fill gaps in industries suffering from severe labor shortages such as agriculture and construction. It remains unknown, however, when Japan will allow business travelers from other countries in.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan has said that 91 percent of companies that took part in a survey on the effects of the entry ban have reported that it has placed a burden on their business. In a statement released Thursday, the ACCJ said that many business owners have reported that key personnel from their companies will not be returning to Japan, as the ban has halted their ongoing projects. Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents reported that they expect a loss of revenue as a direct result of the entry ban.

A majority of American companies in Japan that took part in the survey have said that the entry ban will affect future investment decisions. Some respondents also pointed to long-lasting negative effects of the ban, which has “reinforced the negative perception that Japan does not provide a level playing-field for business and discriminates against foreign workers.”

“While many members recognize that actions are necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus, restricting entry into Japan only for foreigners has reinforced perceptions of discrimination and makes Japan less favorable for conducting business,” the statement read.

European companies with headquarters in Japan have also been heavily burdened by the entry restrictions. A survey conducted by the European Business Council between June and July has shown that a majority of European companies have been forced to suspend internal development projects, as key specialists could not come to Japan, or were concerned about their turnover due to the halt of ongoing projects. Also, 44 percent of European firms were expecting a loss of revenue as a result of the ban.