Visa violators continue sit-in at Immigration

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A sit-in by visa violators and their families entered its second day Tuesday in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau with protesters seeking government good will.

The action at the bureau in Minato Ward is being organized by the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a nongovernmental group to promote cross-cultural communications between Japanese and foreign residents. The sit-in is scheduled to run five days.

A 46-year-old Bangladeshi man whose visa expired back in 1991 emphasized his remorse over his prolonged inaction and lack of legal status. The man, who only gave his first name, Joy, as he doesn’t have an official surname, was caught overstaying his visa in 2010 when he went to renew his driver’s license for the fourth time.

“I feel deeply sorry for any trouble I caused the Japanese government,” he said.

Currently unemployed, Joy said his inability to be a reliable breadwinner has caused him immense emotional stress and left him feeling increasingly emasculated.

He said he grew so depressed he attempted suicide by jumping into a river. He said he is still subject to severe mood swings as he struggles to cope with having to rely for survival on his Japanese wife, Mieko Fuji, 55.

Fuji, for whom Joy is her second husband, said she never imagined that living with a foreigner in Japan would be this difficult.

“Looking back, I now know I never should have turned a blind eye to his illegality,” she said. “But spending good times with him, I didn’t know any better back then.”

Fuji said that when she entered a serious relationship with Joy in 2008, her mother had a knee-jerk reaction, making a snap judgment about him based on the color of his skin.

But now, her infirm mother has come to see Joy as her best friend, according to Fuji.

“I’m sure the same miracle will happen to many Japanese if they just stopped to communicate with foreigners,” she said. “Even my mother has changed.”

  • Christopher-trier

    Has it occurred to this lot that by openly protesting their illegal status they only make it easier for them to be found and deported? I have no sympathy for this lot.

    That Japan is a difficult country to move to is well known. That gaining permanent legal status, much less citizenship is difficult is also well-known. What do they expect? That they’re somehow special and that normal procedure in Japan doesn’t apply to them? Before moving to any country people need to know what they will get themselves into and then decide if they really wish to based on the merits and drawbacks.

  • itoshima2012

    Overstay your visa? Two options: leave voluntarily or get deported. Why should foreigners get special treatment??

  • phil

    Agreed with Christopher. Also I am always wondering what the police is doing to check on illegal people. It seems they are more interested to check on illegal workers (who tries to work in factories) than those who are doing nothing as for example Just go to Roppongi to see a bunch of them touting the customers for bars and commit fraud. I would expect japanese policie to be more pro active vs those guys than active workers

    • Christopher-trier

      I suspect that the police target work places because it discourages employers from giving illegal workers jobs. It’s rather embarrassing to be caught. Roppongi is really bad. The problem there is that the yakuza and Chinese Mafia as well as Korean gangs operate there and they’re much more difficult to deal with. It is unlikely that raids will stop them and they could well make the police pay dearly.

  • KJR

    They are demanding a special permit to stay in Japan. The Ministry of Justice issue the permit to a limited number of people every year. All of them participating in the sit in have received a deportation order already and have spent some years in detention centers. They are claiming that their situations meet the criteria for the permit set by the Ministry.

    The Japanese police actually has been very pro-active and successful in detecting overstayers. The number of undocumented migrants, according to the Ministry of Justice, is only around 62,000 as of Jan 1, 2013. The number has dropped by half in the last 10 years. The figure, 62,000 seems fairly small.

    The above mentioned special permit is one legal option set down in the Japanese immigration law. :-)

  • KJR

    They are demanding a special permit to stay in Japan. The Ministry of Justice issue the permit to a limited number of people every year. All of them participating in the sit in already have received a deportation order and have spent some years in detention centers. However, they are claiming that their situations should meet the criteria for the permit set by the Ministry.

    Speaking of the Japanese police, they are actually very pro-active and successful in detecting overstayers. The number of undocumented foreigners in Japan has dropped by half in the last 10 years. As of Jan 1, 2013 the Ministry of Justice estimates that there are only around 62,000 undocumented foreigners. This number seems fairly small to me…

    The above mentioned permit is one legal option set down in the Japanese immigration law. :-)

  • Mike Wyckoff

    It took me too long to acquire my visa the legal route so I am strongly against these people looking for visa amnesty. There is no such thing as visa give-aways

  • Chibmie

    Unfortunately the sentiments expressed by Christopher, Bontadelltirolo, and Phil take divisive political arbitration determining “who belongs and who doesn’t” as being more important than values of human worth and dignity. The capacity to respond to the unique circumstances of each person is a far greater measure of a society than the politics of exclusion that sharpen in tandem with the rise of what can only be cynically called a “global world” where we exploit workers, those more vulnerable, and less privileged.

    –Jim Fujii

  • http://thehopefulmonster.wordpress.com/ Sublight

    Yeah, the visa rules are pretty clear, and pretty fair as first-world countries go. Unless they’re in that position because they were exploited by an employer, there’s not much to be done,

    I will at least give them props for having an actual protest that puts them openly on the front line to get what they want. Rather than adopting some obnoxious “pinprick protest” strategy of just doing what everyone tells them, but having a snotty attitude while doing it.

  • timthesocialist

    Humanity before nationality. Give these poor people amnesty.