South Korean’s residency restored

A third-generation South Korean resident in Japan could restore her permanent residency status Monday, 14 years after being stripped of it for refusing to be fingerprinted for her foreign registration, officials said.

Choi Sun Ae, 40, a pianist in Yokohama, received official papers to confirm her permanent residency status at an immigration office in Kawasaki.

A law abolishing the fingerprinting requirement for all foreign residents and effectively restoring the permanent residency of fingerprinting protesters was enacted in August last year and took effect Saturday.

The Osaka native belonged to a group of South Korean residents who campaigned in the early 1980s against the requirement that foreign residents be fingerprinted.

She first refused to be fingerprinted in 1981, and when she applied for a re-entry permit in 1986 in order to travel abroad, the Justice Ministry turned her application down.

Choi left Japan anyway, traveling to the United States to study music.

She returned to Japan in 1988 on a different category of visa, and since then she has had to renew the permission to stay in the country every three years.

Like all foreign residents, permanent residents in Japan must have valid re-entry permits if they want to return on the same visa status they held before departure.

Choi filed a lawsuit against the state to retract the re-entry refusal, but the judiciary has supported the government decision.

Upon learning about the restoration of her permanent residency, Choi said, “Something uncomfortable has still been left in my mind because I was born and raised in Japan.”

A law abolishing the fingerprinting requirement for all foreign residents and restoring the permanent residency of fingerprint refusers was enacted in August and went into effect Saturday.