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‘Gokiburi,’ new law and residency

by Ken Joseph Jr.

Cockroaches

One of our readers has been having problems with cockroaches recently. She has been cleaning the apartment regularly, placing cockroach traps and even used a “bomb” to try and get rid of them, all to no avail.

She’d like to know if it’s OK to have pest controllers come in to spray once a year as she does back home, or even if she can ask the landlord to do this, as she thinks the ‘roaches are coming from downstairs, where the landlord lives.

For those who have lived in Japan for any length of time, cockroaches, or “gokiburi,” are simply a fact of life.

The easiest thing to do to keep the situation under control is to keep using cockroach traps. The best are the good old “gokiburi hoihoi,” or “roach motels,” which are available from just about any supermarket.

We spoke to Mr. Yamaguchi of the Zaikei Real Estate Office, who said that, in Japan, the landlord is not responsible for keeping apartments cockroach-free.

If the resident feels they would like to do more than simply put out traps they can hire a professional on their own. However, they’ll need to make sure the owner is informed first.

You can contact Mr. Yamaguchi at zaikei@muh.biglobe.ne.jp

Immigration law

We’ve been getting a few mails recently on the subject of the new immigration law, and what it means for those foreigners already living in Japan.

Although the immigration law has been passed, in reality the process for the fingerprinting and photographing of foreigners (with or without re-entry, work, spousal visas etc.) is still hazy in the extreme, and the authorities themselves don’t yet know how it’ll work.

We called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had us speaking to eight different people before deciding they couldn’t answer our questions.

The Justice Ministry, on the other hand, only transferred our call three times before putting us through to official Yasuhiro Togo.

According to Mr. Togo, “the process of putting into place the technology will take about 18 months. The law is laid out now so that it will cover all non-Japanese except “Special Permanent Residents.” The law was just passed so there is no date set (for fingerprinting).”

With the law just passed, a movement — including the American Chamber of Commerce of Japan among others — has already begun seeking to exempt those foreigners with a visa of one year or more and, of course, regular permanent residents, from the process of fingerprinting and photographing.

If you or your organization would like to be part of that movement, let us know here at Lifelines and we will pass the word on.

Permanent residency

Reader H. would like to know if a person with permanent residency leaves Japan for, say, a year to study/work, and has a valid re-entry permit, then must he or she maintain a legal residence in Japan during the time that they are out of the country. Unfortunately for H., permanent residency is not designed for people living outside Japan to keep one foot in the country.

According to Ms. Eguchi at the Nakai Immigration office, “in order to keep your Permanent Residency visa valid, you need to do two things. First, you must keep your re-entry permit up to date — ie. you must return to Japan within the date specified on your re-entry permit.

“Second, you must keep your alien registration card up to date.”

In order to keep your alien registration card valid and up-to-date, you must have an address in Japan. Simple as that.

If H., or anyone else, needs further information or clarification, they can call Mr. Nakai’s office at (03) 6402-7654 or check out the very useful www.tokyovisa.co.jp Web site.