Japan quarantine fees ‘another slap in the face’, say students

Students report mandatory two-week accommodation costs between £845 and £2,250

November 26, 2021
Japanese yen
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International students eager to enter Japan have decried the steep costs of its government-mandated arrival quarantine, which they say make little sense and are a “slap in the face” after months of waiting.

Although many international students have yet to hear when they’ll be eligible to enter the country, some who are slated to arrive in Japan in coming months are starting to receive invoices from their universities for quarantine costs.

Expense totals seen by Times Higher Education from several universities, which are required to facilitate the government-imposed hotel quarantine for students, are between £845 (£635) and £2,250.

“It is a significant amount that comes as an yet another slap in the face from the Japanese government given their already slow and costly schedule,” said Rebecca Mazzocchi, a master’s student studying global environmental studies at the Tokyo-based Sophia University.

While fully vaccinated students with accepted vaccines against Covid-19 can quarantine for 10 days, unvaccinated students or those without a recognised jab will need to isolate at a hotel for 14 days.

Ms Mazzocchi’s university charges a 15-day quarantine fee of ¥263,000 (£1,700), a middle-of-the-road amount for the country’s capital, based on fees seen by THE.

While vaccinated students could technically get out of quarantine after 10 days, the university advises against it. A statement allegedly sent by the institution warns students that “in some cases” taking a PCR test after 10 days “can be more expensive than 15 nights and 16 days in self-quarantine”.

The arrangement puts students between a rock and a hard place, Ms Mazzocchi said.

“It is a lot of money, especially when added to the amount we are already spending to support living in limbo while waiting for the borders to open,” she said.

Sophia University’s quarantine is far from the most costly. At the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, also known as Geidai, a 15-day quarantine fee amounts to ¥346,075, according to a statement seen by THE.

“So far this fee is mandatory, and some students received an email saying the fee could go up more in the future,” one student said.

In the same city, Tokyo International University, a private, research-oriented liberal arts institution, is charging approximately ¥130,000 to 140,000 for 14 days, a student there reported.

But even fees on the lower end of the scale can pose a steep barrier to some wishing to study in the country. 

Bastien Barbier, a language student who has been waiting nine months to enter Japan, said that while he has yet to get the green light to travel, he was concerned about being able to scrape together the additional funds when the time comes.

“Since we received no schedule from the Japanese government, it was impossible to look for a job without the knowledge of how long I will be staying in my country. So all the money I’ve been saving up for Japan is actually being used right now,” said the French national.

“Having to deal with such amounts for only 10 days – assuming I can shorten my quarantine to 10 days – is really scary to me.”


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