TOKYO -- Japan will let Myanmar citizens remain in the country legally even after their visas expire, in response to deteriorating political conditions in the Southeast Asian nation following the February coup.
The exemption applies to students and technical interns who could face trouble returning home. They can choose to study or work in Japan for another six or 12 months, under plans outlined Wednesday by the Immigration Services Agency to lawmakers.
These Myanmar citizens will be able to apply for another extension if the political situation in their country fails to improve.
Japan also will accelerate the screening process for refugees, and allow applicants from Myanmar to stay and work in the country without that status.
The Myanmar junta has fired two diplomats stationed in Tokyo for speaking out against the military's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The Japanese government is looking to grant the diplomats visas, such as those designated for highly skilled professionals.
There were 35,049 Myanmar citizens living in Japan as of the end of 2020, according to preliminary data released by the Immigration Services Agency. A total of 2,944 were seeking asylum at the end of March.