A 13-year-old Thai orphan living in Japan with her grandmother applied Monday to immigration authorities to change her short-term resident status to a permanent one, submitting a petition signed by 18,400 people.

Mevisa Yoshida, who arrived at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in the morning with her grandmother and lawyer, told reporters, “I want to live in Japan, so please let me stay here.”

Among her application documents were her parents’ death certificates, obtained through the assistance of the Thai Embassy, and the petition signed by members of her school’s parent-teacher association and other supporters.

Mevisa has been living in Japan with her Thai grandmother and the grandmother’s Japanese husband, who both formally adopted her, since February 2003.

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