For Several Indians Stranded in Japan, Endless Wait to Return Home

Flights back home have been cancelled indefinitely.
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Anxiety mounts for Indians stranded in Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(Photo: Erum Gour/The Quint)
Anxiety mounts for Indians stranded in Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Video Producer:
Aastha Gulati

For more than 200 Indians stranded all over Japan, it’s an endless wait to return back to their respective homes in India. The COVID-19 outbreak and consequent lockdown led to the indefinite cancellation of their flights. Several of these are working professionals whose contracts ended in March. They now have no medical insurance and no place to stay.

Rahul Jog, a post-doctoral fellow from Ahmedabad, was to return home in March-end but is still in Hokkaido.

“My boss helped me with an alternative part-time job in the university for a month and from that money I have been able to manage my bills, rent and expenditure. I’m afraid if the coronavirus situation doesn’t improve in India and the travel ban is extended then I’d have to survive on my savings for the next couple of months.”

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Dr Keerthan Shashidhar, an orthodontist from Bengaluru was supposed to be in Japan for a month as part of a programme at the University of Tokyo. The anxiety mounts for many like him who want to return to their families.

“The wait to go back to India takes a toll on not only us but also our family members. Hundreds of Indians have been stranded over here and we have been managing expenses on our own.”

Dwindling funds pose a huge problem.

“I don’t have any place to stay and that’s why I have been staying in a hotel for the last14-15 days. It has been really expensive to stay in a hotel and to go out daily for my meals.”
Neha, Working Professional

Those stranded say they wish to be with their families in such uncertain times as it is lonely in a foreign land where language is a huge barrier.

“My wife and I are expecting our first child. Delivery is expected in May first week. I had flight tickets for 5 April but due to the nationwide lockdown, the flight tickets got cancelled. I want to travel back to India as soon as possible to support my family and my wife on this occasion.”

Prachi, who has been living in Japan for two years, is worried for her parents who can’t go back home to India.

“My parents came to visit us in February and their flight back to India on 28 March got cancelled due to the lockdown situation in India. My parents are stuck here, they are senior citizens without any medical insurance.”

Prachi’s parents were running out of their diabetes and thyroid medicines but they were luckily arranged for by the Indian Embassy in Tokyo.

No Word From Indian Authorities

While the international flight ban has left many confused on the future, there is no clarity via the Indian government on the next steps.

“We have approached the Indian Embassy many, many times. However, they haven’t given us a satisfactory answer regarding the same. We do not really know what their plan is because at this point all they are asking us to do is check the website.”
Dr Keerthan

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Published: 30 Apr 2020,07:29 PM IST