Japan’s entry ban on Indian nationals a blow to ship crew change plan

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on May 27, 2020

Japan’s decision to include Indian nationals among ten other new nationalities who are barred from entering Japan from Wednesday is a big blow to Indian seafarers who were banking on crew change in that country.

The move means foreign nationals who have been to these areas within the last 14 days will be denied entry into Japan, a top maritime nation and among a few nations that had allowed crew change so far.

“When India has started allowing charter flights to carry seafarers to other countries to join ships, other nations are stopping Indians from travelling to their country,” a seafarer said.

India is in the top ten now with regard to Covid cases, he said while urging the government to hold dialogue with member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to sort out the issue.

“Because, if you don’t do this and other countries follow Japan, you will have failed many Indian seafarers and their families,” he added.

A second seafarer said that ship crew should not be clubbed in the same category as normal passengers. “Seafarers are vital and key workers who are essential for world trade,” he said.

As the Covid cases rise in India, crew change for Indians is going to be tougher.

“Worldwide we may face this situation,” he added.

“Had the government understood that seafarers signing on/off are a different category of travellers and facilitated it, we would not be faced with such a situation,”, he added.

When the world is clamouring for crew change and countries are opening up to allow at least crews, Japan’s move acts as a deterrent and hindrance, he added.

The other ten countries are Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, South Africa and Tajikistan.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry had raised its travel advisory for the 11 nations last week, urging against any trips to the areas.

With their addition, the number of countries and regions covered by Japan's entry ban climbs to 111, including the United States, most of Asia including China and South Korea, and all of Europe.


Published on May 27, 2020

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