• Kyodo


A nonprofit organization in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, has published a guidebook written in simple Japanese aimed at helping foreigners living in Japan understand the latest revisions to immigration regulations.

Mieko Suzuki, 66, leader of the organization Tochigi Times, published the book in May to inform foreigners about the revised immigration law and the resident registration law.

The changes took effect last July.

“There were specialized books (on the subject), but I could not find guidebooks that were easy to understand for foreigners. So I thought I should create it myself,” Suzuki said.

Suzuki said she realized many foreigners are not very knowledgeable about Japan’s immigration laws. She said they should pay attention to provisions that could lead to the loss of their resident status, such as the failure to report new addresses within a certain period of time and any changes in their marital status, which affects those who have gained their residency through marriage to Japanese nationals.

Since the publication of the guide, titled “Gaikokujin no Tame no Atarashii Horitsu” (“New Laws for Foreigners”), Suzuki has received numerous inquiries from people such as volunteers working in the area of international exchanges and legal professionals, she said.

The 87-page guide is written in question-and-answer format and contains many illustrations. To aid reading, phonetic characters, known as “furigana,” are printed next to all Chinese characters.

Questions included in the book were raised by foreigners during law seminars.

“I want Japanese nationals who are close to foreigners, and not just foreigners themselves, to understand the system to avoid being punished for not knowing the laws,” she said.

In 1988, the Tochigi Times began publishing an information magazine, mostly written in English, for foreigners. About 1,000 free copies were distributed almost every month at Utsunomiya City Hall and other locations. The group also holds law seminars and exchange events.

For more information about the booklet, contact the Tochigi Times at 028-622-1066.

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