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.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.