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Suginami Ward ‘informers’ just doing their job

by Ashley Thompson

Several residents of Tokyo’s Suginami Ward contacted us in response to C.W.’s experience, which appeared in our March 6 column, “Immigration ‘informers’ call on foreigners in Suginami Ward.”

Victoria admits she was also concerned at first: “I live in Suginami Ward and have already been visited by two ‘officers’ regarding the upcoming changes to the alien registration system. They showed me some identity information, which I probably should have looked at more closely. I mentioned that I had received the information and read it. Then they asked me to write on a form that I had received their visit.

“Not much explanation was given, just a confirmation that as a permanent resident I didn’t have to change my registration straightaway. Initially I, too, wondered whether this was some kind of undercover crackdown on non-Japanese residents of Suginami Ward. However, I guess it’s just a genuine desire to make sure that all us non-Japanese understand what is required of us with the change.

“I have to give Suginami Ward brownie points for their service in the ward office. They are aspiring to do a good job. Things have changed since the days when I had to be fingerprinted for my registration card.”

G.R. writes: “I was visited by two such ‘officers,’ pleasant women with smiling faces. They did not, so far as I can recall, offer to explain the pamphlet. One said they only wanted to be sure that I had received it.”

Adam was notified last autumn about a visit to explain the upcoming law changes, which he assumed would be from a ward officer, but so far no one has come to his door:

“A few weeks ago I asked at my local ward office branch for clarification of the situation. I was told that I should probably expect a visit by the end of March at the latest. I was also told that should I be absent from my flat, the person would leave a notice of the visit and contact information allowing me to make arrangements for another visit. As of yet, though, I still haven’t been visited.

“According to the first paragraph in the subject article, C.W. expresses concern about the intent of these changes and wondering why ‘officers’ are only visiting the foreigners in his ward. I don’t fully understand C.W.’s concerns. The changes and purported intent of the changes have been well-documented on the internet for the last few years, and I would expect ‘officers’ to be only visiting foreigners because the changes are to the immigration law (unless the modifier ‘only’ is meant to apply to ‘his ward’ instead of ‘the foreigners’).”

If you’d like more information about the upcoming immigration and alien registration changes, please visit www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html

Help on the Yamato paper trail

In response to Jim Johnson’s attempt to track down a paper he wrote years ago while attending the leadership school at Yamato Air Station (also in our Mar. 6 column), Mike Skidmore thinks he can help.

“I have a website for Tachikawa Air Base and I attended high school at Yamato Air Station,” he writes. “Have Jim contact me at mskids001@aol.com and I might be able to give him the information he is looking for.”

Seeking a former shipmate

Larry Buchinski is looking for a former colleague:

“I am a Canadian living in Edmonton, Alberta. I worked with a Japanese gentleman by the name of Sokichi Yabe (not exactly sure of the spelling) on the offshore drill ship Ben Ocean Lancer from 1980 to 1983. He was living in Tokyo at the time.

“I would like to know if he is still living in Japan. My concern was the (3/11) tsunami consequences and whether he was affected. I have tried several ways to establish his whereabouts but I have found no information.”

If you know anything about Sokichi Yabe, please email Larry at ljb_safety@shaw.ca.

Ashley Thompson writes survival tips and unique how-tos about living in Japan at www.survivingnjapan.com. Send your questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp