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Zedd Just Showed The Unfairness Of Japan's Travel Ban

The German DJ can enter the country while students and workers still cannot

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Zedd is a popular German DJ.
Pictured, Zedd performs at the Overwatch League Grand Finals 2019.
Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment (Getty Images)

Right now, nineteen prefectures in Japan are under a state of emergency until September 30. But one of them, Chiba Prefecture, will host the Supersonic music festival at a baseball stadium this weekend. Zedd, along with Alan Walker and Steve Aoki, are among the international DJs flown in for the event.

“Finally made it to Japan,” Zedd said in a video he posted to Twitter. “I’m in Tokyo. Now I have to quarantine for three and a half days.”

Three and a half days? This is not the normal experience for permanent residents of Japan or even Japanese citizens, regardless of vaccination status. Every Japanese citizen and foreign resident with a valid visa has been required to quarantine for fourteen days when entering Japan. Save for exemptions during the Olympics, others have generally not been allowed in at all. To monitor citizens and residents, it’s required to install mobile tracking apps that have daily check-ins and video calls. Foreign permanent residents must sign a written pledge promising not to violate the country’s rules regarding quarantining, because doing so could result in deportation.

Things sure seem different for Zedd. In his Twitter clip, he shows off where he’ll be quarantining. As he walks through his enormous suite, showing the fresh fruit, a gaming PC from Maingear, and Valorant goodies, the whole clip seems completely obtuse to the situation in Japan. I don’t begrudge the man’s success, and celebrities get freebies and swish hotels all the time—that’s part of being famous, I get that.

But what makes Zedd’s clip seem so tactless is that there are people all over the world who have stronger connections to Japan—they’re employed there, they own property, they attend school, or they have family—and they still cannot enter the country.

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Since spring 2020, Japan has had a travel ban in effect. While initially, even those with permanent Japanese residency were not allowed to leave and return to the country, this measure has been changed. However, those with student and work visas who were out of the country when the ban went into effect have been unable to enter Japan ever since. According to Nippon.com, the number of international students being denied entry into Japan could be as high as 25,000. The policy, Nippon.com adds, has been called unscientific as well as unfair, leaving students and workers to live their lives on standby. As Nikkei Asia points out, the travel ban might have been effective in the early days of the pandemic, but now, “the initial ban on long-term residents returning home has left a bad taste in many foreigners’ mouths, and the ban on tourism and business travel is sapping morale.”

People are pissed! They’re locked out, frustrated, and angered by an unfair policy—and Zedd’s tweet is getting its fair share of criticism on Twitter. The travel ban has separated students from their schools, people from their loved ones, workers from their jobs, and folks from their homes. The travel ban has also meant no tourists, which has hurt businesses. And yet, here is Zedd showing off his fancy digs in Japan, oblivious to this all.

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Zedd probably had no idea of this. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he certainly is being ill-served by those surrounding him. The clip comes off as smug and ill-timed, especially to those trying to return to Japan to live their lives. They cannot get into the country, but this famous guy can, and he only needs to stay in his huge suite for three days and a half days. All this brings into sharp focus who is really seen as important.

“I’m ready for the quarantine,” says Zedd at the end of the clip. No doubt he is, but people who actually study and work here have been ready for over a year.

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Update 9/21/21 - 5:46 a.m.: Asahi reports that Japan will no longer force passengers from 20 nations to quarantine at government-designed hotels and facilities for three days when entering Japan before quarantining either at home or other lodgings. Visitors, however, will still have to self-isolate for 14 days. The measure impacts those entering from the United States, France, Israel, and Thailand. Japan has also lifted its total ban for Japanese citizens and those with resident visas traveling from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Moreover, an earlier version of this article stated that only permanent residents were allowed to leave and re-enter Japan. Foreign residents with visas are allowed to leave and re-enter. The article has been updated to reflect this. Students with visas, newly hired workers, and business people are still banned from entering the country.