educators in Japan and Asian studies

Members of the US-Japan Network for the Future initiated this petition to call on the Japanese government to expand the range of foreign visitors allowed to enter Japan subject to vaccine, testing, and quarantine requirements. The petition will be delivered to representatives of the Japanese government in Washington, DC, and in Tokyo. We encourage Japan scholars, experts, and others involved in student exchange, regardless of nationality, to sign the petition.

January 18, 2022
Dear Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio:

We are scholars, educators, policy practitioners, and bridge builders who have spent our careers engaging with Japan and training the next generation of Japan experts in the United States and elsewhere. We write to express our profound and deepening concern about Japan’s strict border closure for non-citizens. Under current policies, non-resident foreigners who wish to study, work, carry out business, visit family, or engage in research in Japan are unable to enter–even if they are vaccinated, test negative, willing to quarantine, and conform to all public health protocols. Exceptions to this policy have been extremely limited in scope. The closure is harming Japan’s national interests and international relationships. We urge that the policy be modified to allow entry for purposes other than tourism as soon as possible.
Recently, many members of our community gathered to commemorate the memory of the late Harvard professor, Ezra Vogel. Professor Vogel was a leading Japan scholar, policymaker in the US government, and mentor to several generations of students and experts of Japan, including many of us. He consistently emphasized the critical importance of person-to-person connections, which he cultivated throughout his career by traveling frequently to Japan. For the past two years, the formation of such personal ties has come to a virtual halt.

This past fall, our study abroad students were able to study in Korea, but not in Japan, and some students have begun shifting their choice of language study to match the places they can actually visit. Graduate students who sought to include Japan in their research have given up and chosen to focus on countries that allow foreign researchers to enter–fateful decisions with long-term consequences. Many English-language study programs at Japanese universities, which began over the past decade to attract foreign students and build a global reputation, have been unable to attract new applicants. While Japanese students were welcomed at U.S. and other universities under exchange agreements, the inability of foreign students to travel to Japan threatens to freeze these exchanges.

Prime Minister Abe and President Obama committed in 2012 to doubling two-way student exchanges by 2020, and they came close to achieving this important goal by a number of metrics before the pandemic. Governments and private groups in Japan and the United States committed substantial resources to advancing this goal. Now all of those efforts are in danger of withering on the vine.

In recent years, Japan has played a valuable international leadership role by articulating the vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. A basic principle of this vision is openness, which Japan has admirably supported in areas like free trade and investment. The strict border closure is inconsistent with this foreign policy vision. It undercuts Japan’s diplomatic objectives and status as an international leader.

We understand widespread anxiety about the pandemic among the Japanese public and government officials: we share these concerns. However, Japan’s current policy emphasizes citizenship rather than public health. Japanese citizens can travel freely for tourism, while non-citizens are separated from their families, forced to put their careers and training on hold, or reorient their trajectories entirely to focus on other countries. This is an immense loss not only for them, but also for Japan.

We are not advocating that Japan open its borders completely, adopt lax entry requirements, or allow tourists to visit casually for leisure. However, researchers, students, and those who need to visit Japan to see family members are not tourists. They are few in number, and they invest a large amount of time and effort to become familiar with Japan’s language, culture, and society. They become the bridges between Japan and other societies. They are future policymakers, business leaders, and teachers. They are the foundation of the US-Japan alliance and other international relationships that support Japan’s core national interests.

It has been over two years since the beginning of the pandemic. New variants will inevitably evolve with regularity. It is not a viable strategy to sever the human-to-human connections that are so essential to Japan’s long-term national interests. After adopting strict border controls early in the pandemic, several countries–including Japan’s neighbors–have instituted effective quarantine measures that allow for safe entry. We strongly urge the government of Japan to implement similar measures to allow entry for individuals who are core constituencies for Japan, and who will contribute to deepening Japan’s ties with the world.

This statement has been endorsed, not only by the US-Japan Network for the Future, but also by the US-Japan Friendship Commission, the board of the Bridging Foundation, the American Advisory Committee for the Japan Foundation; the Japan Society of New York; and the Japan-America Society of Washington DC. The individual signatories listed below appended their signatures after this letter was circulated by email. Their affiliations are listed for identification; signatories are acting in their personal capacity and not as representatives of their organizations. We invite others to add their signature via this GoPetition site.


Members of the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future Program

Daniel Aldrich, Director, Security and Resilience Studies Program, and Professor, Political Science and Public Policy, Northeastern University
John Bradford, Executive Director, Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies
Emma Chanlett-Avery, Vice Chair, National Association of Japan-America Societies
Erin Chung, Charles D. Miller Associate Professor of East Asian Politics, Johns Hopkins University
Liv Coleman, Associate Professor of Political Science, The University of Tampa
Annika A. Culver, Associate Professor of East Asian History, Florida State University (FSU); Editorial Board Member, Texas National Security Review (TNSR)
Yulia Frumer, Associate Professor and Bo Jung and Soon Tyoung Kim Chair of East Asian Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University
James Gannon, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA)
Shihoko Goto, Acting Director, Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson Center
Kristi Govella, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Asia Program, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Mary Alice Haddad, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, Wesleyan University
Tobias Harris, Senior Fellow for Asia, Center for American Progress
Hilary Holbrow, Assistant Professor of Japanese Politics and Society, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University
Llewelyn Hughes, Associate Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
Kathryn Ibata-Arens, Vincent de Paul Professor, DePaul University
David P. Janes, President & CEO, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Foundation; Chair, Japan ICU Foundation; Chair, EngageAsia; Executive VP & COO, American Friends of the International House of Japan
Kazuyo Kato, Executive Director, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA)
Weston S. Konishi, Senior Fellow, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
Adam P. Liff, Associate Professor of East Asian International Relations and Founding Director of the 21st Century Japan Politics & Society Initiative, EALC Department, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University
Phillip Lipscy, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Department of Political Science and Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto
Ko Maeda, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas
Matthew D. Marr, Associate Professor of Sociology, Florida International University
Reo Matsuzaki, Associate Professor of Political Science, Trinity College
Mary M. McCarthy, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Department of Political Science, Drake University
Kenneth Mori McElwain, Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
Levi McLaughlin, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University
Emer O’Dwyer, Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Oberlin College
Andrew L. Oros, Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Washington College
Gene Park, Professor, Political Science and International Relations Department, Loyola Marymount University
Robert J. Pekkanen, Professor, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington
Susan Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Research Professor of Japanese Politics, Harvard University; Senior Advisor, US-Japan Network for the Future
Crystal Pryor, Vice President, Pacific Forum International
Anand Rao, Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Relations, State University of New York at Geneseo
Leonard Schoppa, Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia; Senior Advisor, US-Japan Network for the Future
Daniel M. Smith, Gerald L. Curtis Visiting Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University
Sheila A. Smith, John E. Merow Senior Fellow for Asia Pacific Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, Japan-US Friendship Commission; Senior Advisor, US-Japan Network for the Future
Mireya Solis, Director, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution
Nicolas Sternsdorff Cisterna, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
Michael Strausz, Associate Professor of Political Science, Texas Christian University
Hiroki Takeuchi, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies of Political Science, and Director of the SMU Tower Center Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia, Southern Methodist University
Jolyon Thomas, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Kristin Vekasi, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and the School of Policy and International Affairs, University of Maine
Joshua Walker, President and CEO Japan Society and Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Other Signatories

David R. Ambaras, Professor of History, North Carolina State University
Suzanne Basalla, President and CEO, US-Japan Council
Joshua Batts, Research Associate in Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge
David D. Baskerville, Counselor, International House of Japan
Peggy Blumenthal, Senior Counselor to the President, Institute of International Education
Michael Bourdaghs, Robert S. Ingersoll Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Lee Branstetter, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Kent Calder, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and Director, Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Johns Hopkins University SAIS; Chair, American Friends of the International House of Japan
C. Jeffrey Char, President & CEO, J-Seed Ventures, Inc.
Niharika Chibber Joe, Deputy Executive Director, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission
Charles Crabtree, Assistant Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
Paige Cottingham Streater, Executive Director, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission
Gerald L. Curtis, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Columbia University
Paula R. Curtis, Postdoctoral Fellow, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
Richard Dasher, Director, U.S.-Asian Technology Management Center, Stanford University
Christina Davis, Professor of Government and Director, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University
Julie Nelson Davis, Professor of the History of Art, University Pennsylvania
Trevor A. Dawes, Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums, May Morris University Librarian, University of Delaware
Robert Dunbar, W.M. Keck Professor of Earth Science, Stanford University; Professor of Environmental Earth System Science; Anne T. and Robert M. Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education; Director, Stanford University Stable Isotope Lab; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Alisa Freedman, Professor of Japanese Literature, Cultural Studies, and Gender, University of Oregon
Hiroyuki Fujita | 藤田浩之、理学博士(物理); Founder and CEO | 社長兼最高経営責任者 | Quality Electrodynamics; Chair of the Board of Trustees | クリーブランド・クリニック・ヒルクレスト病院理事長, Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital; Honorary Consul of Japan in Cleveland
Ellen Van Goethem, Associate Professor of History and History of Ideas, Kyushu University
Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University
Michael Green, Director of Asian Studies and Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Georgetown University; Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Wallace C Gregson Jr, Lieutenant General US Marine Corps (retired), Former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
Peter Grilli, President Emeritus, Japan Society of Boston
Susan Hackwood, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Founding Dean, College of Engineering, Director of the Science to Policy (S2P) Certificate Program, University of California, Riverside; Former Executive Director, California Council on Science and Technology
Paul Hastings, Executive Director, Japan ICU Foundation & JICUF Endowment
Yusaku Horiuchi, Professor of Government and Mitsui Professor of Japanese Studies, Dartmouth College
Eiko Ikegami, Walter A. Eberstadt Professor of Sociology Emeritus, The New School for Social Research
Frank Jannuzi, President and CEO, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
Yuko Kakazu, Astronomer; Trustee, OIST Foundation
James D Kelly. RADM USN (Ret), President John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange-U.S. (CIE-US), and Dean Emeritus U.S. Naval War College
Samuel Kidder, Trustee, American Friends of the International House of Japan; Managing Director, FES, Inc.; Former Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
Tomohisa Koyama, Special Advisor to the President, Nagoya University and Executive Director, Technology Partnership of Nagoya University, Inc.
Barak Kushner, Professor of East Asian History, Chair of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge
Eiichiro Kuwana, President and Founding Principal, Cook Pine Capital
Indra Levy, Executive Director of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, Stanford University
Patricia L. Maclachlan, Professor of Government and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Texas at Austin
William Marotti, Associate Professor, History; Chair, East Asian Studies MA IDP, UCLA
Mari Maruyama, Executive Director, Obirin Gakuen Foundation of America
Laura Miller, Professor of Anthropology and Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Samuel Morse, Howard M. And Martha P Mitchell Professor, Departments of Art and the History of Art and Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chair), Amherst College
M. Diana Helweg Newton, Director of the Tower Scholars Program and Senior Fellow at SMU Tower Center
Mari Noda, Professor of Japanese, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Ohio State University
Scott North, Director, Osaka University North American Regional Center for Academic Initiatives; Professor Emeritus, Osaka University
Morgan Pitelka, Professor of History and Asian Studies, Chair of the Department of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director, Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Former Chair of Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange
Chelsea Szendi Schieder, Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
Susan Schmidt, Executive Director, American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ_
Benjamin Self, Vice President, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
Michael M. Sera, Sera Consulting, LLC
Ryan Shaffer, President of Japan-America Society of Washington DC
Doug Slaymaker, Professor of Japan Studies, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Kentucky
Daniel Sneider, Lecturer, East Asian Studies, Stanford University
David Sneider, Partner, Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP
Amy Stanley, Wayne V. Jones III Research Professor of History, Northwestern University
Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak, Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies; Department Chair of Asian Studies, St. Olaf College
Yves Tiberghien, Professor of Political Science, Konwakai Chair in Japanese Research, and Director of the Center for Japanese Research, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada)
Kurt Tong, Chair, National Association of Japan-America Societies
William M. Tsutsui, President and CEO, Professor of History, Ottawa University
Steven Vogel, Il Han New Chair of Asian Studies, Chair of the Political Economy Program, and Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley
Donna Vuchinich, Senior Executive Director, Advancement, Simon Fraser University; Former President and CEO, University of Hawaii Foundation
Kären Wigen, Frances & Charles Field Professor in History, Stanford University
Gavin Whitelaw, Executive Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University
Duncan Ryūken Williams, Professor of Religion, American Studies and Ethnicity and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California
Julie Meier Wright, Vice Chair, OIST Foundation
G. P. Yeh, Okinawa Goodwill Ambassador; Chairman of G P Yeh Foundation
Christine Yano, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and Chair, Japan Foundation American Advisory Committee
Shay Youngblood, Professor of Creative Writing, City College of New York
James Zumwalt, Chairman of the Board, Japan-America Society of Washington DC

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The calling on Japan to open to foreign students and scholars petition to educators in Japan and Asian studies was written by Leonard Schoppa and is in the category Education at GoPetition.