Vietnamese immigrants celebrate Vietnamese New Year in Kawaguchi, Japan, February 2019
Issei Kato / Reuters

When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, people will again be on the move, crisscrossing the planet in search of career opportunities, education, and better lifestyles. But the destinations and directions of those movements may be forever changed. Life in some countries, including the United States, will appear less desirable than it did before the pandemic. And the very nature of the recent crisis may drive would-be migrants to prize safety, stability, and the ability to maintain family connections.

The United States, whose response to the virus exposed chaos and division, stands to lose migrants. But other countries will gain them, and with them, the attendant benefits of diversity, dynamism, and new talent. Few stand to profit more than Japan, a relatively secure and stable country with low unemployment—even a need for more laborers—and excellent universities that can lure students who may now be reluctant to risk expensive study

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