Thai orphan fights to stay in Japan

A 13-year-old Thai girl living in Japan with her grandmother filed a lawsuit Tuesday, seeking the repeal of an immigration bureau decision to deny her permanent residency status.

Mevisa Yoshida, a student at a Tokyo junior high school who has been living in Japan since February 2003, sought to change her short-stay status to permanent settlement status in October. The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau rejected her application.

The bureau said the girl, who lives with her Thai grandmother and her Japanese husband, does not fulfill the necessary criteria.

A second application was also dismissed this month. Her short-stay permit will expire early next month.

Yoshida came to Japan to live with her grandmother in February 2003, with her mother having died of an illness in Thailand in 2002. Her father was killed in a traffic accident just before she was born in Thailand, according to her petition, which was filed at the Tokyo District Court.

The grandmother adopted the girl in 1997, in accordance with Thai law. Her husband also adopted her after she came to Japan.

The immigration bureau explained that she is too old to get permanent residency status as an adopted child. According to conditions set by the Justice Ministry, children in this bracket must be younger than 6 when adoption takes place.

Yoshida, a student at a junior high school in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward, said she can read and write Japanese. “I don’t want to go back to Thailand. I have no house to live in and no one who can take care of me there,” she told reporters.