It is often sad when long-term relationships come to an end, but I have mixed feelings about the one I called it quits with recently.

I’m talking here about my relationship with the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, which I’ve been maintaining dates with on a regular basis since 2003. As I boarded the No. 99 bus from Shinagawa Station to that island in Konan, Minato Ward, in March, though, I wondered if it would really be the last time.

The Justice Ministry recently announced that from next month foreign residents will be able to apply for visa extensions, renewals and status changes online, partly to avoid the long lines and crowds typical of a day at the bureau and potentially deadly in the era of COVID-19. So for many of us, that trip out to Konan will no longer be necessary.