Immigration crackdown seen as paving the way for state to expel valid visa-holders

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

After successfully expelling visa overstayers over the past decade, Japan is now shifting its immigration control focus to a new target: people in the country on bogus visas.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has submitted a bill to revise the immigration control law that will stiffen the crackdown on individuals it views as an emerging threat to public safety.

While it is unclear whether the bill will be passed during the current Diet session that ends in late September, lawyers and activists warn it is intended to give authorities leeway to weed out foreigners they consider “undesirable.”

Not only that, the envisaged law is so broadly defined that its impact could in reality extend to any foreigners who have mishandled their paperwork in applying for visas, they said, adding it even risks stoking xenophobia among the Japanese public.

The revision takes aim at what the government tentatively calls bogus visa holders, or giso taizai-sha (those staying under false visa status). The government has no official definition for them, but the term typically refers to foreigners whose activity is out of keeping with their visa status.

“The tricky thing about them is that they are outwardly legal,” immigration official Tomoatsu Koarai said, adding they possess a legitimate visa status and therefore are registered on a government database as legal non-Japanese residents.

Examples include “spouses” of Japanese nationals married under sham marriages, “engineers” whose job has nothing to do with engineering, and “exchange students” who no longer engage in academic activities after facing expulsion, the Justice Ministry said. Unlike visa overstayers, whose illegal status is clear-cut, these bogus visa holders theoretically remain legal until they are apprehended and have their visas revoked.

The ministry cracked down on about 280 such cases in 2014, but officials estimate the real tally is much higher.

“Compared with overstayers, these bogus immigrants are much harder to detect,” Koarai said, adding their tactics of deception have grown increasingly cunning in recent years.

Spotting overstayers is easy, he said, as all immigration has to do is consult its database and check up on the expiration date of a person’s visa. But to prove someone is actively deceiving a set visa status, an exhaustive investigation into each individual is necessary. The process, Koarai said, is “really time-consuming.”

Under the current framework, bogus immigrants are stripped of their visa if apprehended, but they face no criminal penalty, although they will either be deported immediately or instructed to return home within a month, depending on the circumstances.

The law, if enacted, will subject those who obtained or renewed visas through “forgery and other unjust measures” to criminal penalties, including up to three years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of ¥3 million. The ministry believes imposing criminal penalties will serve as a deterrent.

The envisaged law will also expand the scope of foreigners subject to visa revocation.

Currently, foreign residents are allowed to retain their visa for three months after stopping their permitted activities. The bill calls for scrapping this three-month rule and ensuring that foreigners who discontinue their activities forfeit their residency status the instant they are caught engaging in something different or “planning to do so.”

The Abe government characterized in 2013 the stiffer crackdown on the bogus visa holders as part of its drive to make Japan the “world’s safest nation.”

Immigration official Koarai agrees, saying it disrupts Japan’s immigration control.

“If we failed to crackdown on those spurious immigrants, it would send out the (wrong) message that foreigners are free to flout immigration rules. We tolerate no rule-breakers,” he said.

Coming on the heels of Japan’s strenuous crackdown on visa overstayers, the bill represents a shift in its target, according to Eriko Suzuki, a professor of immigration and labor policies at Kokushikan University.

As is represented by the government’s five-year initiative started in 2004 to “halve” the number of illegal immigrants, Japan has over the years successfully repatriated visa overstayers, who totaled 60,007 as of Jan. 1, nearly a fifth of the peak in 1993.

The bill reflects Japan’s renewed push to banish non-Japanese it deems as “undesirable” and gives authorities greater discretionary power to this end, Suzuki said.

As Japan braces for an inevitable increase in foreigners — with its domestic workforce rapidly shrinking and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaching — a law like this is just what immigration needs to tighten control over incoming foreigners, she added.

“Setting forth these criminal penalties puts authorities at ease, because it grants them the legal basis on which to crack down on unwelcome individuals,” she said.

A stepped-up measure like this risks making Japan a more controlling society, putting foreign residents in general, including valid visa holders, under stricter surveillance by the government and the public, she warned.

Suzuki is far from alone in voicing skepticism over the bill. Concerns are growing among critics over its fundamentally vague phraseology and possible ripple effects.

Several human rights organizations, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and Solidarity Network with Migrants in Japan, separately issued statements against the bill.

Lawyer Koji Yamawaki, for one, pointed out that requirements for criminal penalties were too broad.

Similar court rulings in the past suggest the phrase “forgery and other unjust measures” does not just refer to cases involving obvious deception and mendacity, he said. It could also include simple missteps on the part of foreigners in filling out application forms, such as failing to notify immigration beforehand of some minor facts concerning their life in Japan, he said.

“For example, it’s often the case foreigners applying for a working visa don’t inform immigration of the fact they live together with someone they are not legally married to, because they thought the information was not relevant. But the reality is many of these omissions have been deemed by immigration serious enough to revoke one’s visa,” Yamawaki said.

What’s worse, after the law’s enactment, these minor lapses could not only cost foreigners their residency status, but hold them criminally liable.

“The point is, under the intended law, even if you’re not being actively deceitful, you could still be prosecuted for simply not mentioning facts that immigration wanted to be aware of — no matter how irrelevant and trivial they may be. The law is that broad,” the lawyer said.

Yamawaki also pointed that out it’s not just foreigners who could be held accountable for such slip-ups. Their lawyers, employers or anybody involved in helping fill out their forms could also take the blame — at least theoretically — on the grounds that they partook or aided in their alleged attempt to obtain visas illegally, he said.

Should such a law be enacted, Yamawaki warned, it could instill the public with the misguided notion that foreign residents are troublemakers and contribute to breeding a xenophobic atmosphere.

“I’d dare say this is an extremely dangerous legislation the likes of which have seldom been seen in recent years,” he said.

Tokyo-based lawyer Shogo Watanabe, meanwhile, said the government was pursuing the impossible. Its expected crackdown on the tiniest missteps in a person’s paperwork, Watanabe said, ran counter to what he called the fundamentally “shady” way migration works worldwide. Human migration, he said, was not as perfectly clean as Japanese authorities apparently want it to be.

Illegal as they are, brokers, for example, now play an “indispensable” role in facilitating people’s movement in today’s world, while many migrants feel compelled to omit or understate certain facts that they fear may erode their chance of a successful application.

“That’s the reality of how migration works. No matter how hard Japanese authorities may try, they simply can’t make it completely crime-free,” Watanabe said. “Rather, picking at every single omission committed by foreigners sounds to me as tantamount to excessively interfering with people’s movements.”

Although those who intentionally feign marriage or occupation perhaps should be penalized, the law could in theory put in danger the vulnerable who should in fact be protected, not punished, human rights activists say.

One such example is technical interns who work under a state-backed foreign traineeship program called the Technical Intern Training Program.

Under the discredited initiative, allegations are rife that interns have been underpaid, forcedly overworked and abused sexually and verbally by unscrupulous employers. Fed up with subpar wage standards, a record 4,851 interns fled their workplaces in 2014, according to Justice Ministry data.

As the ministry acknowledges, these “runaways” will be considered in violation of the envisaged law once it takes effect, too, because — technically speaking — they no longer are fulfilling their duties as “technical interns” as per their visas.

“To think the law aims to crackdown on those interns who were fortunate enough to be able to escape their workplaces . . . this is unbelievable,” Ippei Torii, secretary-general of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, said.

“The government completely lacks the understanding that these people are in fact victims who need to be protected.”

  • Charles

    “Currently, foreign residents are allowed to retain their visa for three months after stopping their permitted activities. The bill calls for scrapping this three-month rule”

    If that happens, how are we supposed to be able to change jobs? Especially for specialized professionals, the pool is small enough where it might take several months to find a new job. Shortening the current three months to an even shorter amount of time will force foreigners to take the first available job they can find, even if it is an awful one, just to keep the visa. Forcing foreigners to grab the first available job as quickly as possible just to keep their visas will result in lots of stress for foreigners as well as many unhappy Japanese employers and foreign employees, who are “stuck with each other.”

    In the past, we had until the end of the visa validity period to find a new job. In 2012, this was shortened to three months (well, technically as many as 104 days–14 days to report it, then 90 days to find a new job). This is a worrisome trend. What’s next? One month? Two weeks?

    I’m currently studying for a degree in Computer & Information Science (and already have a degree in IT and two career studies certificates in Business IT and Application Programming), and can read/write >1,300 kanji (I passed Kanji Kentei 4-kyuu last year with a solid 168). I know that if I keep studying hard, I will be able to work in IT as soon as next year. This new law change worries me greatly because, as a fresh graduate, I’m going to need more than two weeks to find a job–it might take several months.

    • Clickonthewhatnow

      That is the worrisome part, but we don’t know what it would be shortened to yet. It could be two weeks, it could be two and a half months. I’ve never been happier that I’m waiting for acceptance for my PR, though, tell you that. Here’s to hoping that three month thing stays as it is. By all means, toss out people who don’t report their visa change in time, or don’t find alternate work. The three month duration is fine as it is.

      • Charles

        I agree with what you wrote—here’s to hoping that the three-month thing stays as-is. And believe me, I can’t wait for PR, either.

        I made sure to research the regulations on PR very carefully before I came to Japan to avoid doing things that would disqualify me down the road. I’ve known too many doofuses who go home for a few months in Year 5, or lazily overstay their visas by a matter of days, either thinking “I don’t care about PR” or “I’m sure it’ll all be okay” and reset the clock and end up regretting it later.

        Two weeks or a month is probably just me being paranoid. They probably won’t even scrap the three months, and if they do, it probably won’t be two weeks.

        However, my paranoia isn’t completely unfounded—I used to live in Taiwan and two weeks was what it was there, so that is not unheard of in this part of the world. I had the boss from hell and she knew full well that she could exploit me, pay me from half to 5/6ths of the going rate, and claim to be paying my tax money (actually pocketing the taxes) because if I quit, my window for finding a new job would be only two weeks in the very, very crowded and high-competition English teaching market of Kaohsiung.

      • nrolland

        I do think you make sense sometimes

      • Steve Jackman

        I’m not sure how long you’ve been in Japan, but I would strongly disagree with your comment that the Japanese are nice to foreign employees.

        I am an American who’s been living and working professionally in Japan for over a decade. I have had ample opportunity to see how Japanese employers treat foreign workers and it is anything but nice. I have routinely seen Japanese employers harass, bully, mentally and physically abuse, discriminate against and violate Japanese labor laws when it comes to their foreign staff. Non-Japanese workers are treated with disdain and looked upon as second-class employees here in Japan.

        I’ve never worked in Taiwan or South Korea and have no desire to do so, so I can’t speak to how foreign workers are treated there.

      • nrolland

        Unfortunately, you might be right Steve. Which points to the fact that the two subject should not be conflated as they are.

        The unalienable and absolute right of a society to choose its future (I think its articl 4 of human right, by the way) is independent of the necessary measures of good administration for, say, the workplace.

        It is a very legitimate concern for foreigners, once accepted, to be protected in their work environment.
        I hope the legislature take that into consideration.

      • Charles

        As much as I Japan-bash, I’m on my third FT employer here, and have found that all my employers adhere to the the contracts I sign with them almost to the letter. I have to give credit where credit is due, even if this country is headed straight to hell. Not only have my employers here paid me on time and in full, but all three of them have sometimes slipped me bonuses ranging from small (here’s ¥1,000 as thanks) to large (you can keep that extra ¥50,000 for last month that I overpaid you, don’t worry about it). Two of my employers straight up offered me Shakai Hoken, too. The first one didn’t, but that was because it was a tiny business (only two people) and is exempt from the Shakai Hoken requirement. My labor rights are almost always respected.

        This is in contrast to China (the contract has absolutely no meaning, the employer freely renegs on any and all agreements, hires multiple people for the same job, etc.) and Taiwan, to a lesser extent.

        Korea is relatively better than China and Taiwan in the honesty department, but I’d still say not as good as Japan.

        All the countries I mentioned (including Japan) have glass ceilings. All the countries I mentioned (including Japan) immediately type-cast you as “some gaijin who is mostly good for only his English.”

        As for the transactional nature of relationships, yeah, Japan is the worst on that front. Back in Korea, I had genuine friends, some of which I still keep in touch with to this day. Some Koreans welcome you into their homes and will even continue to be friends with you even if you never speak English. The same thing applies in Taiwan.

        In Japan, I’m so used to the phony, transactional approach to interpersonal relationships, I’ve just given up on true friendships with the vast majority of Japanese (there may be a few out there who don’t view me as a free English lesson machine and with whom I have something significant in common, but I’ve yet to find them and I’m in my fifth year here). These days, whenever someone approaches me and starts talking to me in English, I pretty much just roll my eyes and as politely as possible tell the person to buzz off (if it’s a guy) or, if it’s an attractive girl, I, well, work my end of the transactional relationship paradigm, if you know what I mean.

    • Steve Jackman

      That is exactly the point. The Japanese government and corporate Japan does not want foreigners to be able to switch jobs, to settle in Japan, build a career here or to lay down roots in Japan. Japan wants its interactions with foreigners to be strictly transactional in nature, not built on developing long-term relationships.

      The current short three month cut-off to find a new job before one’s visa runs out is by design and not the result of an oversight by the Japanese government. Everyone knows that the Japanese government is beholden to corporate Japan. It is in corporate Japan’s interest to have this time limit for foreigners to find a different job be as short as possible.

      The shorter the cut-off period before their visa expires, the harder it is for foreign workers to switch jobs. This makes it easier for them to be exploited, bullied, abused, and treated as second class employees by their current Japanese employers, since it in effect turns them into enslaved and indentured servants of their present employers. Japanese employers enjoy having such control and power over their foreign workers, since this way they can get away with violating Japanese labor laws and basic human rights of their foreign staff.

      As it is, Japanese employers seem to take great pleasure in treating foreign workers (including STEM and other professionals with advanced degrees) with great disdain. The Japanese workplace is extremely hostile to foreign employees, where they are routinely abused, harassed, discriminated against and bullied. This legislation will make things even worse. The writing is clearly on the wall for all to see, “Foreign workers stay away from Japan”.

      • Charles

        While I generally agree with this, I think the question has to be asked:
        “Why aren’t things currently worse?”

        “Why do we still have three months to change jobs?”

        “Why do we still own our own visas?”

        “Why do most English teaching jobs still pay ¥250,000 a month on average and not ¥170,000 or ¥180,000, the legal minimum?”

        Obviously there has to be some reason why things haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Someone has our back (kind of), or maybe it’s just capitalism at work. Otherwise, all jobs in Japan would be ¥180,000 a month with no Shakai Hoken, employer-owned visas, and no ability to change jobs. Obviously something has prevented this from happening so far. What is it, and will it continue to exist in the future?

  • J.P. Bunny

    Seems okay, since it is all in order to make Japan the” world’s safest nation”, and protect public safety. Without the crackdown foreigners may run amok and poison the subway system, drive into crowds of pedestrians, scam the elderly out of their life savings, run rip-off bars, build condominiums that don’t meet earthquake standards, or set up businesses that sexually exploit high school girls. Things that the natives here would never do.

    • Charles

      Exactly—or maybe these foreigners would ride around on their loud, obnoxious motorcycles late at night, waking up whole neighborhoods in the process. Or maybe these foreigners would have a massive orgy with hundreds of people that would disgrace Japan and strain international relations. They might even cause the economy to shrink for the next 25 years! Things that the natives here would never do.

      Thank goodness the Japanese government has its priorities straight. 60,007 visa overstayers! That’s TWICE AS MANY illegal immigrants as America*!
      *(if you multiply by 367)

      • Ken Foye

        I don’t like the loud motorcyclists either. Nor do I like the fact that the U.S. has so many illegal immigrants.

        But those things are totally irrelevant to the issue in this article. Why do some people justify or excuse one bad thing (in this case, fake-visa foreigners in Japan) by bringing up some other bad thing?

        If you’re here on a student visa but not actually studying, or you’re here on a visa to teach English but aren’t actually doing that job … I don’t blame the Japanese government if they show you the door.

        We’re guests in their home, so to speak. We’re therefore obligated to respect their laws.

      • Charles

        I agree that “fake-visa foreigners” should be cracked down on (though I question how many resources should go into this goal), but what constitutes a “fake-visa foreigner?”

        Someone who pays a fee to enter into a sham marriage to get a spousal visa? Yeah, that’s definitely a “fake-visa foreigner” in my book, and I’m tired of the J-immigration system tolerating that.

        A guy who walks with a limp, yet somehow mysteriously gets a sports visa? Yeah, that’s definitely a “fake-visa foreigner” in my book, too. “Show [that guy] the door,” to put it in your words.

        The same goes for students who drop out of school (or are expelled) yet continue to stay for a year or more and work.

        HOWEVER, the part that bothered me was the part about scrapping the three-month countdown if you’re not doing your designated activity and replacing it with a shorter time period. Read my post below as to why I think that is very severe (it makes life much harder for professionals, and by professionals, I do not mean “eikaiwa English teachers or ALTs,” but more specialized professionals like STEM workers). These specialized workers need more than just two weeks or a month to find a new job. Expecting them to work at the same job as long as they are in the country is unreasonable. I think the current three months’ time to find a new job is the minimum reasonable amount. This should not be scrapped.

        Regarding your guest analogy, speak for yourself. I’m not a guest, I’m a resident. Residents have fewer rights than citizens but more rights than guests. Even if I were just a tourist, I’m still entitled to my opinion by Article 21 of The Constitution of Japan.

      • Steve Jackman

        I agree with you on the three month cut-off for finding a different job before your visa runs out. Of course, this limit is already too short and it’s likely to get even worse.

        However, this is by design and not the result of an oversight by the Japanese government. Everyone knows that the Japanese government is beholden to corporate Japan. It is in corporate Japan’s interest to have this time limit for foreigners to find a different job be as short as possible.

        The shorter the cut-off period before their visa expires, the harder it is for foreign workers to switch jobs. This makes it easier for them to be exploited, bullied, abused, and treated as second class employees by their current Japanese employers, since it in effect turns them into enslaved and indentured servants of their present employers. Japanese employers enjoy having such control and power over their foreign workers, since this way they can get away with violating Japanese labor laws and basic human rights of their foreign staff.

        As it is, Japanese employers seem to take great pleasure in treating foreign workers (including STEM and other professionals with advanced degrees) with great disdain. The Japanese workplace is extremely hostile to foreign employees, where they are routinely abused, harassed and bullied. This legislation will make things even worse. The writing is clearly on the wall for all to see, “Foreign workers stay away from Japan”.

      • Charles

        I mostly agree with what you wrote. It is not in the companies’ interest to have employees be able to change jobs easily, and they might lobby the government to make the window shorter.

        Quite frankly, it’s a miracle it has stayed three months for as long as it has. I wonder why Japan has historically been so (relatively) generous in giving three or more months to find a new job when Korea, Taiwan, etc. do not.

        And yes, I would agree with your statement that the writing is clearly on the wall for all to see, “Foreign workers, stay away from Japan.” I am no longer recommending to my Japanophile friends that they come here. In fact, my recommendation one way or the other is unnecessary—they see the $25,000-a-year salaries for full-time work that requires a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate, and teaching experience, and say “WTF?” (in much politer terms) and then decide to just visit Japan every once in a while instead of living here.

        Me? I nearly went home last year. I finally realized, after trying to deny it for so long, that this is an irreparable sinking ship with a madman at the helm (Abe) and a group of madmen (the LDP) ready to put another madman forward if there’s a mutiny. This is a one-party state; LDP is pretty much the only choice—look at how many years since WW2 the LDP has controlled the government. Other parties theoretically exist, but almost never get elected. This country has a very dark future.

        So why on earth do I stay? Simple—I have certain personal goals that require me to be here. Pursuing these goals requires forfeiting significant income every year (my IT degree has an average starting salary in the States of $39,400, about $14,000 more per year than I make here). HOWEVER, I have the rest of my life to make money, and these personal goals, well, if I abandon them now, they will likely never be completed.

        When my personal goals are complete (and I estimate that’ll take a few more years), I’m 90% sure that I’ll be out of here. Of course, there’s a tiny chance that some miracle could happen that might make me want to stay here after they have been completed.

      • nrolland

        That’s the voice of responsibility speaking here.

        There is a fine line here : some circumstantial critic start as legitimate, as the 3month period being scraped being a tool to pressure folks. That is perfectly well founded.
        But they inevitably end up as a sort of God given imperatum for Japan to comply with the worst PC vision of the world.

        And that’s where it should be clear that none of it should ever be respected by Japan : As a japanese, as a resident, as a tourist, or as a potential tourist, the signal should be loud and clear that Japan should never give the slightest bit of ff… to those claims, and that those who do not agree should stick it up.

      • J.P. Bunny

        The fake visa bit I agree with, but not the “we are guests in their home.” I am a working, tax paying resident. I certainly would save a ton of money if I were a guest.

      • Ashwin Campbell

        They also might push for religious based medical exclusions to common sense needs, push for gun rights then kill each other because of loud music or honking at them in traffic, or my god, even get involved in politics to accept bribes from the public (wait, that happens everywhere).

    • nrolland

      Indeed, they should never tolerate people coming in their country to do that. what is your point ?

      • J.P. Bunny

        Obviously thou dost not live here, nor recognize sarcasm.

      • nrolland


      • nrolland

        In my defense, your text do read more like a typical anglosaxon whine than actual sarcasm.

        But may be you can explain why any country should tolerate the slightest bit of foreign criminal activity without sarcasm ?

      • Charles

        I’m more concerned with the “criminal” part than the “foreign” part. Maybe if police just focused on catching “criminals” instead of wasting their time and resources focusing on foreign criminals only, they would be better at their jobs.

        I was once surrounded by seven cops in Fukushima and nagged for more than an hour—all to see my gaijin card! I was refusing to show it unless the police officers showed their IDs (my legal right). Imagine how many real criminals could have been caught with 7+ hours of police time that they WASTED to get me to show my damned ID card after racially profiling me as I rode my bicycle!

      • nrolland

        That’s because you are concerned about being PC – just another form of puritanism -, and you expect other people not from your culture to be PC as well.

        Japanese are totally right to assert their own right to annoy smug foreign activists.

        I am proud they do and hope they continue, to rightfully convey the message that they are not impressed by foreign prejudice.

        Their country, their rule, their responsibility

      • Charles

        So basically, you’re anti-human rights and do not agree with the UN CERD. Got it. Perhaps North Korea would be a good place for you—racial homogeneity, “their country, their rule,” and no smug foreign activists.

      • nrolland

        Look, the League of Nations was created to provide assurance to a France scared that Germany would go at it again. Have you followed the sequel ?

        Your Human Rights are a nice idea, but none of the islamic country adhere by it. So its just a english book club / ambassador tea party bs

        If you want to fight for human right, dont annoy police in Japan, be a man, take a gun, and go protect christians in middle east.

        Until then…

      • nrolland

        If you think the only responsible country is NK, and that Japan has to comply with guilt-ridden anglosaxon temper tantrums, you have more than 1 problem..

      • Hendrix

        your block minded ignorance is astounding…. just keep kissing japan backside..

      • nrolland

        I take that as a compliment Hendrix.

      • Steve Jackman

        Sad, so sad!

      • Steve Jackman

        nrolland, I think your comments and advice only applies to foreigners in Japan who are insecure, lack confidence, have low self-esteem and no sense of self-worth. Perhaps you can relate to your own advice, but Charles does not come across to me as someone who fits this profile.

      • nrolland

        I am perfectly fine in you thinking so..

      • Charles

        I love all your attempts at Anglo-Saxon guilt-tripping me, because, you see I’m not Anglo-Saxon, so it just goes to show the JT readers what a presumptuous ____ you are. Maybe you could try calling me the N-word, the S-word, the J-word, or something else instead because eventually, one of them will end up being right. ;-)

        Anyhow, whatever ethnicity/race you are, I’m sure that your ancestors magically appeared on land previously devoid of any human habitation and built their own civilization with their own hands, never displacing, subjugating, or otherwise oppressing others who were on that land first! Must be wonderful not to have any of that “guilt” that I’m apparently full of. Just try not to open any history books! ;-)

      • nrolland

        You dont have to be Roman to be a Roman citizen.

        It’s called an empire ;)

      • nrolland

        Also Rome used local zealots among the elite to turn a new city in

      • nrolland

        I dont even know what words you refer to. That’s just another illustration of how mentally uncolonized I am… on the other hand…

      • nrolland

        I do like history books. full of insights. but a bit depressing when my contemporaries imagine they are all different and do not forecast what is inevitable.

        Not sure I understand your point though. But in the end, whatever, go to your american university, eat Saxon each morning.

        Your eyes should see how we are nothing without a past, how beautiful our differences are, and how a greater good comes from preserving those.

      • J.P. Bunny

        My ancestors ate Saxons for breakfast. No explanations for you.

      • nrolland

        That’s because there is no explanation for whining about a nation administering its own country.

        Not only they have the right to administer Japan as they so wish, despite your gaijin ungrounded whining, but they have the duty to do so.

        May be your ancestors ate a bit too much bad stuff, and you got contaminated along the way.

      • Charles

        @williamnoll:disqus J.P. Bunny

        My prediction: He’s lived here for 10+ years, speaks fluent Japanese, owns his own business (or is in an elite, professional job, definitely not English teaching), and has “never encountered any discrimination except for a little bit of staring from small children.” Because that basically describes every person on JT I’ve ever had an argument with—at least if you take them at their word. ;-)

      • nrolland

        My prediction : you have a problem with nations as yours was founded on colonisation/replacement of population and used to various form of unfairness still persisting today.

        It’s useful in your puritanist mind seeking redemption to preach moral repentance to everyone.

        You actually think immigration is a good thing because you can’t live with the weight of your own guilt which would inevitably come if you had to face reality.

      • kension86

        eh, whenever the economy is not doing well, politicians often try to divert the attention away to something else. This is not just about Japan, it happens everywhere.

        As for immigration, it depends on how it’s done. If you have shortage of labors and that immigrants can integrate into the culture, then it’s fine. For example, a Canadian doctor immigrating to USA.

      • nrolland

        Sure, under very precise circumstance, it makes a lot of sense.

        What is bothering is the seemingly god-given idea of True Good that mass immigration is a moral duty.

        And all the BS that comes with it : invoking history when all of history are nations trying to stay alive. invoking the benefit for the host society without mentioning the high cost to both host and origin societies. invoking diversity by their own tricked measure of it. etc, etc.. the BS is endless, it really never ends..

        ___ that

        Thank god Japan stayed Japan, hope it stays so forever.

      • Steve Jackman

        More likely, it’s a result of low self-esteem, being an Uncle Tom or the Stockholm Syndrome.

      • nrolland

        apart from calling names there is one argument here so far : the downside of having opportunistic exploitation of scraping the 3mont rule.

        After which it become a typical long whining from people explaining how japan should comply to they ideal of mass immigration and rainbow of diversity where everything is perfect in theory…. and a nightmare in reality.

        interestingly I think you are in a mental prison. Free yourself, go to other places with lots of immigration, you’ll be happy.

      • Charles

        Yeah, Steve Jackman, I was kidding, man.

        People like him (apologist losers with low self-esteem, Uncle Tom gaijin) always claim the following things online:
        – That they’ve been here a long time (at least 10 years, usually 20+)
        – That they’re fluent in Japanese
        – That they’re highly-skilled professionals
        – That they’re black (or another non-white, non-Japanese ethnicity/race) because that makes them seem “neutral” or “not privileged.”
        – That they’ve “never had a problem with racism in Japan except [insert some tiny, minor microaggression here].” and that, when I bring up something racist “That has never happened to me.” or “Obviously it was something you did.”
        – That in America, they experienced [insert horrible injustice here—stabbing, beatdown, etc.].

        In our real lives, we almost never meet people like this. Gee, I wonder why? Simple—because they’re lying to boost their credibility in stupid Internet debates, and people will lie much more readily over the Net than they will face-to-face.

    • Ken Foye

      All of those behaviors that you mention, while certainly negative, are irrelevant — totally irrelevant — to the issue addressed in the article.

      People who are here on valid visas, but who are engaged in activities not permitted by their visa status, should not be surprised if they’re asked to leave after being caught.

      The behaviors you mention have nothing to do with that. Nor do they mean that Japan must give up its right to enact certain immigration laws and expect non-citizens to obey them.

      This is a post-9/11 world, and as a foreign resident of Japan who plans to live here till death, I do NOT want to see people here on student visas if they’re not actually studying. Or people who are supposed to be teaching English but not actually teaching it.

      And no offense, but your attempt to deflect attention over to other issues — as if that somehow means Japan isn’t allowed to have immigration control laws — should be dismissed. Those are separate social ills having nothing to do with the fake-visa issue.

      • Jameika

        No one wants crime. I think the issue here is the vague wording and the effective criminalization of ‘trainees’, for example, leaving horrible conditions (where their ‘keepers’ are breaking all kinds of laws, but are somehow protected or at least shielded because if the victim of rape or physical abuse, according to this law, were to go to the police, that victim is in violation of a law) and that is frightening.
        And the list of crimes is not “totally irrelevant” if the stated goal here is to make Japan “the safest country” since it does nothing to address real crimes. Most crimes in this country are committed by Japanese people (by numbers and percentage) and this is trying to create more victimless crimes out of nothing. It’s a distraction from the government’s inability to actually address real issues.

      • Jameika

        No one wants crime. I think the issue here is the vague wording and the effective criminalization of ‘trainees’, for example, leaving horrible conditions (where their ‘keepers’ are breaking all kinds of laws, but are somehow protected or at least shielded because if the victim of rape or physical abuse, according to this law, were to go to the police, that victim is in violation of a law) and that is frightening.
        And the list of crimes is not “totally irrelevant” if the stated goal here is to make Japan “the safest country” since it does nothing to address real crimes. Most crimes in this country are committed by Japanese people (by numbers and percentage) and this is trying to create more victimless crimes out of nothing. It’s a distraction from the government’s inability to actually address real issues.

      • Jameika

        No one wants crime. I think the issue here is the vague wording and the effective criminalization of ‘trainees’, for example, leaving horrible conditions (where their ‘keepers’ are breaking all kinds of laws, but are somehow protected or at least shielded because if the victim of rape or physical abuse, according to this law, were to go to the police, that victim is in violation of a law) and that is frightening.
        And the list of crimes is not “totally irrelevant” if the stated goal here is to make Japan “the safest country” since it does nothing to address real crimes. Most crimes in this country are committed by Japanese people (by numbers and percentage) and this is trying to create more victimless crimes out of nothing. It’s a distraction from the government’s inability to actually address real issues.

    • Hendrix

      Yeah and of course we cant have foreigners reading kiddie porn comics in Akihabra or touching up women on public transport, oh and those foreigners are really into upskirt photos …cant have that, the Japanese would never approve..

    • Paul Martin

      What planet are you on ? All those illegal acts you mention where in fact done by JAPANESE PEOPLE !! The sarin gas attack was done by a japanese sect,The driver of the car that hit those pedestrians in akihabara was a japanese ..Most of the bars ripping off gaijins is japanese along with the shops selling kid prn in Akihabara .The people getting ripped off on fake grandson in trouble scams are in japanese also..Get you facts right .

      • …ever heard of sarcasm?

      • J.P. Bunny

        Heard of, but doesn’t understand it.

      • J.P. Bunny

        The fact is that Japan is going on its visa crackdown to “protect public safety” and make Japan the “word’s safest nation” is yet another round of “blame the foreigners for most of the crime” game. Foreigners do commit crimes in Japan, most of them visa violations, crimes that Japanese people can not commit here. All of the illegal acts mentioned before were committed by Japanese, and would have happened even if every foreigner had been kicked out of Japan. Please try to follow this: Cracking down on visa violations does not Japan a “safe ” place.

        Please try to think about what is written, and, if there is a knee jerk response…..no more capital letters please.

      • Paul Martin

        How bout we return all Japanese to their wonderful homeland…and gaijins all leave Japan that would solve the problem right ? and let them eat their Toyotas, Hondas, Mitsubishis, Subarus and Sony’s to their hearts delight and defend themselves so that Americans don’t have to put their lives on the line for an anti-foreigner country !

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s why I’m going to be voting for Donald Trump, because in his recent interviews he has been taking a tough stance against Japan’s unfair trading practices with the U.S. Just a couple of days ago, Trump spoke about how Japan ships freighter loads of Japanese cars to America, yet it only accepts paltry amounts of beef and wheat from America in return (that too, begrugingly).

      • Paul Martin

        Good choice Trump will CHANGE all the games !

      • tisho

        Donald Trump is an economically illiterate buffoon, he illustrates the worst qualities a person can ever have – proudly ignorant, uninformed, arrogant, incompetent. He is going to help destroy America faster than the socialists. He doesn’t even understand basic economics, i can’t even begin to explain how ignorant that buffoon is. There is no such thing as ”unfair trade”. If Japan is protectionist and does not allow foreign cars into their country, then that hurts only them, it does not hurt the US. When the Japanese export their cars into the US, nobody is forcing you to buy that Honda. You buy the Honda because you like it. The customers win because they get to choose more for less. The average Japanese gets to choose less for more, because of their protectionist policies. There are no ”American jobs being stolen by Japan or China”. There is no such thing as an ”American job” to begin with. When Honda or Toyota comes to sell in America, they create jobs there, there is something called ”the invisible hand”. For every job ”taken”, another one gets created. The reason why American companies leave America is for the same reason companies from California leave for Texas, because of too much regulations, too many taxes, not a good place to do business. Manufacturing is cheap, when you have a minimum wage of 17 dollars per hour, and 1 ton of regulations you have to comply with, it simply becomes impossible to compete in the US, you have to leave. Trump thinks if he puts trade tariff of 20% on China, he is going to make the companies come back to America, this is the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard, and this statement alone is an evidence that Trump does not understand even basic economics. You put 20% trade tariff with China, and the prices in Wall Mart instantly double, triple, people will not be able to afford the cheap goods China produces anymore, there will be massive movement of companies leaving the US for other countries. Trump has the same protectionist policies Japan have. Trade is one way street, your partner does not need to engage in free trade for you to benefit. They only hurt themselves by closing their markers for foreign goods and competition. I cannot believe Trump is even taken seriously, the American government has become so illiterate that even buffoons like Trump have chance of winning.

      • J.P. Bunny

        A round of applause from this corner.

      • Steve Jackman

        Your argument doesn’t hold water. Do I need to remind you that Japan imposes stiff tariffs on many American products, including a 700 percent tariff on American rice.

      • tisho

        You don’t need to remind me, that was my entire point, Japan has a protectionist, closed economy, and because of it, the average Japanese is worse off than the average American, the standards of living in Japan are much lower than in America. Would you rather choose between Honda and Toyota, or between 50 different car brands from around the world? Would you rather have more choice or less choice? Would you rather pay more or less? If the answer is more for less, then you don’t want to have protectionism, you want to have open and free trade, more competition means more choice for less money.

      • Paul Martin

        All i want to say is without gaijin (foreigners) protecting, investing, visiting and buying Japanese cars and electronics Japan’s economy and future would collapse !

  • Hendrix

    I’ve been expecting this, i was wondering when Abe and his team of xenphobes would play the foreign card…. of course they wont go after the real criminals who happen to be Japanese like the yakuza, no lets go after the weakest in society, foreigners… so expect more police id checks, surveillance and visits to our homes to check up on us…. in one word, Fascism.

    • nrolland

      I would prefer your supposed “fascism” over a supposed “open” country any single day.

      How are your bro doing back home Hendrix ?

      • Hendrix

        you have never experienced discrimination have you? …otherwise you would have to get your butt out of that ivory tower

      • nrolland

        You obvisouly know more about discrimnation than I do.

        I also know that when you and I hear about Saint Louis, one has a great French king in mind, while the other think about a great open non-fascist experience which should be a model to every fascist society in the world.

      • Charles

        I can’t speak for St. Louis, but I can speak for this:

        Japan’s economy, on a per capita GDP basis, SURPASSED America’s around 1990. That is to say that the average Japanese was RICHER than the average American around 1990.

        Japan has a very strict immigration system. Permanent residency takes ten continuous years for foreign workers. There are only 60,007 known overstayers. 98% of Japan is Japanese; the majority of the foreigners are Asian, so Japan is 99% of the same “race.” Yes, Japan has achieved a wonderland of racial homogeneity, a sea of black hair and light skin.

        Now, let’s take open-immigration America with its St. Louis, it’s obese population, its guns and drugs, its poor math test scores, and its 11 million illegal immigrants.

        Japan’s GDP per capita (PPP) in 2015: $38,216
        America’s GDP per capita (PPP) in 2015: $56,421

        Japan may be more homogenous, but seriously…the average American makes $18,205 extra dollars per year that the average Japanese does not make. That’s enough to buy a BRAND NEW BMW every two years. Or a whole extra house every ten years. Don’t like St. Louis? Take the extra money and buy a house in Martha’s Vineyard! Not all of America is a gang-ravaged wasteland!

        So…Japan can try to argue about why its almost closed immigration system benefits it, but Japan is going to have to accept that this current model is a drain on the economy, not something that helps it.

      • nrolland

        It seems obvious reading you that we all have different value system. I dont measure a nation or a culture with money. What you mention as beneficial do not appear so to me, way way far from it. Which brings me to the point common to you and your little whiner friend : Your dream is a nightmare for many people.

        That would be fine if I also did not think that your dream is also your nightmare, although you do not know or have the mental strength to recognize it. Your mercantile world vision really shares the same old basic traits which were identified 300 years ago by the most enlightened.
        That makes it really really uninteresting.

        Finally I would suggest you ask your final question to the descendant of the indians. I am sure they can learn you cowboy a trick or two on the subject.

      • nrolland

        I wonder how do you value the benefit of not being infestated with quote “gang-ravaged wasteland” ?

        How do you call someone who promotes a system having such wasteland as being the panacea *on moral grounds* except an idiot ?

      • Charles

        They’re two different systems and neither is absolutely superior. Japan has lower crime, and America is $18,205 richer per capita per year, but isn’t quite as safe.

        Certainly, safety is worth something. I would not go and work in, for example, ISIS-controlled Iraq, for pretty much any amount of money.

        Is a small increase in safety worth $18,205 a year to you? Would you forfeit $18,205 per year for a 1% increase in safety?

        How about for a 0.1% increase in safety?

        How about a 0.01% increase in safety?

        how about a 0.000045% increase in safety? <- This is your chance of being murdered in America on any given year (14,000 murders per year, 308 million people, calculate it yourself).

      • nrolland

        You think they are not equal. I think its just as preposterous to promote a system littered with appaling wasteland as it is to honeymoon in ISIS Syria.

        Tolerating such places essentially means do not have a country.

        That’s what it is to be part of the same country : to not tolerate for other fellowmen, in your territory, what you would not tolerate for you.

        And that is of your country’s sole responsibility, from a time immemorial which predates the possibility to wipe your a.. with the UN flag or any other fancy modern ideal

      • Steve Jackman

        Do not confuse historical slavery in the U.S. and its effects on contemporary American society with modern day immigration.

      • nrolland

        I agree those are historically different.

        But when one put forward the High Moral Duty of having immigration, and only then, I am totally grounded to point toward the opinion the Native Indians might have of this High Moral Duty.

        (Slavery is an interesting subject, but not the one concerned here)

        On the same moral ground, pointing to the USA or other “melting pot” as a model of diversity given the massive failure it is regarding precisely this aspect is a joke. If anything it is used, and rightly so, as a counter model.

        There is only one moral ground, for which people have been time and time again ready to fight and die for : respect your ancestors, the unique value of your culture, transmit it in a better shape to your children.

      • tisho

        Charles, you put too much emphasis on the GDP numbers. You will rarely find an economist (read Austrian economics student aka libertarian) who will tell you that the GDP figures of a country actually matter. These figures are just a mere attempt at measuring the approx. amount of money generated in a country. What matters is the standard of living of each individual. Standard of living is measured in the purchasing power of individuals, i.e. it doesn’t matter how much money you receive, it matters what that money can buy you. Wealth is measured by abundance of goods and services. High standard of living means when you have abundance of goods and services on a lower price, low standard of living means when you fewer choices on a higher price.

        There has never been a time in the history of the United States and Japan, when the average Japanese were richer than the average American. The time you are probably referring to was around the 80~90s, that was the time Japan was at it’s peak at money printing and right before the bubble burst. Japan had a very open economy with very high standards of living up until around that period, after that, they become extremely closed, protectionist economy. Their big companies were increasing the GDP figures, because they were highly subsided by the Japanese government, which completely killed their competition in the domestic market, however, the average Japanese was never better off than the average American.

        When the average American goes to buy a car, he gets to choose between 20, 30 different car brands from around the world competing for his money, so the price is as low as possible, the quality is as good as possible. When the average Japanese goes to buy a car, he gets to choose between 5, 6 car brads, because there is no competition, the prices are high, the quality is bad.

        This same principle applies to everything else, including human labor.

        So my point was that, how much money you get does not matter, how many goods and services you can get with that money is that matters. Your salary can be 500 dollars, but if all the goods and services around you are cheap, then you will have a high standard of living.

        The problem with Japan and their protectionist policies is that they falsely think those big companies help the middle man, they don’t. It merely increases the GDP figures, but it doesn’t make the average man’s live any better. Competition is what makes the average man’s live better, because competition forces all companies, big and small, to compete for their customers, more competition means higher quality, more choice on a lower price.

        Competition among labor is the same, in a free market economy, there can never be more people than jobs, there are always more jobs than people. What Japan needs is free economy, free labor market. Let the companies hire and fire people at all, regardless if that person is from abroad or not. Right now they can’t do that, there are too many regulations imposed upon them, you can’t get a working visa even if Toshiba wants to hire you, because there is no competition and foreign labor are not free to get a job, companies can exploit the labor because they know they do not have a choice, if they had a choice, no company can afford to exploit a foreign worker. Google can hire anybody from around the world and grand him visa the next day, even small Coffee shops in America can do that, Japanese companies cannot.

        You’ve probably seen the anti-TPP movement, while i am personally against TPP because it’s a deal that has nothing to do with free trade, the Japanese people against that deal think that free trade with destroy Japan’s agriculture. Again, the agriculture industry wants to protect their own self interests, they know if they have a competition they will be crushed, so they try to make the government kill their competitors so that they can have a free pass on the customer expense. Same applies for all the other industries in particular the car industry in Japan is terribly protected and has no competition at all.

        By the way, its truly sad to see the American government becoming more and more protectionist and anti free trade. Getting a working visa in America has become so difficult over the years that it’s nothing but natural for people to want to come illegally. The problem with immigration in the US is the same with the drug war. You make the drugs legal, the war ends tomorrow. You make it as easy as possible to get a working visa in America, the illegal immigration ends tomorrow. Sadly fewer and fewer politicians understand even basic economics, you have Donald Trump and others talking complete rubbish and people believe them. Sad time in history, no doubt.

      • nrolland

        Kid, there is something to be gained of being independent energetically, agriculturally, industrially.

        That thing to be gained is to be able to make thoughtful decision for your own good and for the good of your partners.

        Always deferring your need on someone else is not a legitimate goal

      • Charles


        I’m not talking about absolute GDP for a country, or a nominal GDP. My figures were GDP per capita PPP. Per capita means per person and PPP means purchasing power parity. The nominal GDP per capita in Japan is actually only ~$33,000 because of the currency artificially manipulated to be as low as possible (thanks, Abe). The PPP (what a Japanese person can actually buy with that GDP per capita) is over $38,000. Basically the average Japanese person can buy the same amount of goods and services with $33,000 that it would take an American $38,000 to buy. So what a person can buy IS accounted for in the GDP per capita (PPP), the numbers that I gave.

        Obviously saying “North Koreans make about $600 a year and Americans make about $60,000 a year, therefore Americans are 100x richer than North Koreans” would be ridiculous. You get a free dwelling/room to sleep in from the state in North Korea. Many things are free from state services. So they adjust that number to get the PPP, which is about $1,800. A North Korean has about the same standard of living as an American who makes $1,800 per year, because there are more state services and the cost of living is lower, so each $1 buys about $3 worth of goods and services in NK. Still pretty bad, but not as bad as $600.

        You’re right, though, that GDP per capita (PPP) doesn’t account for number of choices. America has far more choices because of its less protectionist market and more capitalistic/competition-driven economy, free trade deals, and lack of many tariffs (though I guess this is changing).

      • tisho

        By the way, there is a recent documentary called ”The princess of the yen”, it is the best documentary i’ve seen about Japan’s development after the war. I highly recommend it. Another highly recommended documentary, although old, is ”Japan: Myths behind the miracle”. You can watch both on YouTube.

      • Charles

        I’ll consider doing that. Might be interesting.

      • Steve Jackman

        I do not think you can try to use reason or rational arguments with nrolland.

      • nrolland

        Steve, you know inside of you, that has nothing to do with it.

        Now you play the rule of “opinion”.
        That tendency has been documented and identified as a weakness in your democratic society for ages.

        But in the end, not matter how many social and moral arguments you provide 2+2 is still equal to 4

      • Charles

        Hahaha, I never even once hit the report button on that douchebag’s posts. Someone else was doing that. I guess he managed to annoy just about everybody. ;-)

        The good news is, someone who acts as nrolland does cannot possibly be a happy, well-adjusted individual. We don’t need to get revenge on someone like him. Life is already doing the job for us. ;-)

      • Steve Jackman

        nrolland wrote, “How are your bro doing back home Hendrix ?”

        I think this is a pretty blatantly racist, narrow minded and stereotypical statement, but it does seem to fit with your other comments here. I personally have a difficult time relating to such comments.

      • nrolland

        That’s racist in your mind. I can’t control it, nor do I want to.
        I also think that you have a twisted mind, and a general will to be offended, that’s characteristic of your prejudiced culture.

        Indeed, the situation in Saint Louis is precisely at the heart of my argument. Pointing at this place is not a vile comment underlining a belief that a race is superior to another.

        If you have a wicked mind, deal with it, dont expect others to do so for you

      • nrolland

        Just as this comment is typical of a society full of self-righteous people fighting evil, it is also useful to remind that that same society has still not yet managed to straighten things up.

        That’s not guilt tripping, it’s a harsh reality : PC prefer sweet baby talk and f.. from behind.

        I prefer to talk to men as men, and to consider them as such.

  • Firas Kraïem

    I’m sorry, but “I thought it was not important.” is no excuse to willingly omit some information which is explicitly requested on an application form.

  • Ken Foye

    The headline is misleading and alarmist. They’re only going to “expel valid visa holders” if they’re engaged in activities that aren’t permitted under their visa status. Or if it’s clear that someone got a spousal visa through a sham marriage.

    If you’re here legally AND you’re not engaged in activity that your visa doesn’t permit, you have nothing to worry about.

    If someone’s here on (for example) a student visa but isn’t actually enrolled in a school or studying, why should they be allowed to stay? In this post-9/11 world, I certainly don’t blame Japan for asking people engaged in such deception to leave.

    We don’t have a right to be here; it’s a privilege extended to us by the Japanese government. As such, we are obligated to play by the rules and obey the immigration laws.

    If you’re here running a bar when your visa says you’re supposed to be teaching English, and you get caught in that deception, you shouldn’t be surprised if the Japanese government shows you the exit door.

    • Charles

      There is one part in the article where they discuss scrapping the current three-month window to find another job. That is the worrisome part for people who are here and obey the immigration laws. In some specialized professions, the number of jobs isn’t that big. Expecting a highly-specialized professional to find a new job (if laid off, for example) in two weeks or a month is unreasonable, especially if it isn’t hiring season (March).

      Three months is the minimum reasonable amount of time, and that Japan allows this three months (whereas Korea and Taiwan don’t) has always been something that set Japan ahead of (most of) the rest of the pack in East Asia.

      Yes, we are obligated to play by the rules and obey the immigration laws, but:

      – We (even as non-citizens) are entitled to our opinions and have the right to express them. Both the UN and Article 21 of the Constitution of Japan agree on this.

      – Immigration laws are a two-way street:
      Just as a country can “show you the exit door,” an immigrant also has the freedom to choose to leave and go somewhere that treats them better, taking their skills and money with them. Some of us are actually valuable to the economy of the host country. Many foreign professionals are in the STEM fields, business owners, etc. They are an important part of Japan’s economy, creating jobs and offering goods and services that would otherwise be either unavailable or more expensive. Japan will suffer when they leave.

      Many English-teachers (who make up a large proportion of the JT readers) are self-loathing and think “Japan doesn’t really need us, our students’ English levels are barely improving anyway.” They then make the determination, right or wrong (which is a question for the ages), that “the Japanese don’t really need us,” and project this image onto not only themselves, but other foreigners, as well, including foreigners who are not English teachers. This is very narrow-minded.

      Yes, there are some foreigners who, if they chose to leave, would hurt Japan’s economy in doing so. Take Masayoshi Son (a Korean citizen until 1990), who FOUNDED SoftBank, has over 13 billion dollars, and is a philanthropist. Of course, Masayoshi Son is an exceptional example and not a typical gaijin, but there are certainly many, many foreigners who are like Son, but on a lesser scale, and their absence would damage Japan if they left.

    • Sam Gilman

      It all depends on how this crackdown is prosecuted, which I think is the point of the objection by the Bar Associations. How much will the strict letter of the law be used to maximise the size of the catch, and how much will the spirit of the law be the guiding practice? The UK immigration system, for example, is absolutely horrible in the way that it treats many clearly bona fide cases, seemingly because it runs on targets and quotas of how many people to block, or standard obstructive processes (such as refusing initial applications but not even bothering to challenge appeals). While the Japanese system isn’t like that right now, I think it’s still worthwhile being wary of it becoming so.

  • Ashwin Campbell

    What they need to do is get rid of all those Nigerians who don’t really have a job except for harassing tourists and forcing them into overpriced clubs for fear of being mugged. How did they get visas anyway?

    • Charles

      Sports visas, mostly, I read in another JT article.

      I have no idea why Japanese immigration tolerates them, streetwalkers from China on entertainment visas, and people in sham marriages, yet makes things so difficult for those of us who ACTUALLY HAVE A RESPECTABLE JOB.

      If I’d paid some old Japanese woman a few thousand bucks for a sham marriage and gotten her to fill out some paperwork, I’d be a permanent resident now.

      But no…I chose to do things honestly, working a full-time job. I’m in my fifth year here. Permanent residency? Still more than five years away.

      Punish the hard workers, reward the criminals. That’s what I feel like this is.

      • Perry Constantine

        It’s pretty simple. Those people are on the lower rung of the organized crime ladder. And guess which political party has long had an association with organized crime.

      • Charles

        Amen, brother.

  • Shady Shita

    This is really extrem, the part in the article (The Abe government characterized in 2013 the stiffer crackdown on the bogus visa holders as part of its drive to make Japan the “world’s safest nation.) reminds me of donald trump talking about immigrants as criminals :( , the majority of them work their as* off to make a living for themselves, really the more i read about this topic , the less i want to go to Japan :/

    • Charles

      Yeah, I have to say, I chose Japan because back in 2011, it looked like a better choice than Korea or Taiwan at the time. I am now regretting that choice. Things have gotten worse since I got here, not just at a linear rate, but an exponential rate:

      – The yen is 79.70 to the dollar! Make $37,641.15 per year teaching English!
      – Have a stable visa! If you lose your job, you can stay until your visa expires and job hunt!
      – The DPJ is in power! They’re talking about making immigration easier, maybe even giving voting rights to foreigners who are permanent residents!
      – 5% consumption tax! Sweet! That’s low!

      – The yen is 124 to the dollar. Make $24,207 per year teaching English!
      – Your ability to change jobs may soon be severely restricted, so good luck on having a stable life in Japan!
      – The LDP is in power, and has been for almost three years! Abe, the Prime Minister who screws up the country, but never gets voted out of office, proclaims “It’s not an immigrant policy. We’d like them to work (…) for a limited period of time, and then return home.”
      – 8% consumption tax, soon to be 10%!

      You can come if you want, but this is not looking good. I would recommend against it. Retrospectively, I should have stayed in Taiwan, moved back to Korea, or gone to Singapore (multicultural) instead.

      I’ll stick with Japan for the time being. It might turn around. I still have several goals here that I will have to abandon if I leave the country. However, if I had it all to do over again, I would probably have picked another country.

  • Frido

    Guys, wake up from your dream of a residence in Japan – go home! Don’t you read between the lines: Go back to your country of origin and work there! Japan doesn’t need gaijin who steal jobs from the natives. You state that English teaching is performed best by native speakers? You are wrong. Let the Japanese deal this among themselves. They are very inventive in situations where a crisis arise.
    Abe and his entourage want back the splendid isolation Japan pursued during the Edo period. This government only wants foreigners as tourists who let their amount of money in the country and leave as fast as possible after their shopping bags have been filled and the wallets are empty. In return, all other countries of the world should agree to send their residents of Japanese origin back to their home country to help Japan overcome its population decrease – maybe some good English teachers are among them.

  • tisho

    According to Gallup int. survey conduced few months before the Fukushima disaster, approx. 5 million people world wide (including Africa) have expressed desire to immigrate to Japan if they could. Today, that number is most likely smaller because of the Fukushima disaster and the financial crisis. So, even if Japan completely opened up its borders for anyone who wants to come, there will be less than 5 million people only. In comparison, 80% of the people want to immigrate to the United States. The debate in Japan should not be whether or not to allow more immigrants to come, it should be how to make more immigrants to come.

  • William Massie

    What I wonder about is for people who have side jobs. Say they have a teaching visa but do something else like translating or graphic design on the side. Don’t tell me they will start fingering those peeps too. I’ve known people before who did that kinda stuff.

    • Charles

      Don’t worry about that. That is one of the few ways that the immigration system has actually IMPROVED recently.

      Translating was already on the same visa category (Specialist in Humanities/International Services). Graphic design, I think, might be, too (but since I don’t have much in the way of graphic design skills, I’ve never researched it–but I hear that interior decorators get SiH/IS visas, so I think it’s okay).

      This year, in April, they merged Specialist in Humanities/International Services with Engineer. I have verified this because I received one of the new residence cards with the merged categories clearly visible. So basically you can now program computers, teach English, translate, etc. on the same visa. It’s awesome. See, one thing that has gotten better recently in a vast ocean of things that have gotten worse. ;-)

      • William Massie

        True but I was talking about people with teaching visas who teach full time but do non teaching jobs on the side

      • Charles

        There are two teaching visas:
        – The Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa (now in the process of being converted to Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services)
        – Instructor

        Are you on an Instructor visa? If so, my condolences.

        Doing part-time work is legal as long as you inform immigration of it and pay your taxes on it. You own your own visa here, not your employer. That’s one of the great things about working in Japan as opposed to, say, South Korea.

      • Perry Constantine

        It’s a little more complicated than that. Despite writer being a Specialist in Humanities/International Services category, I was told by immigration that my writing income wouldn’t count towards my self-sponsored visa. Only teaching-related income could be applied to that.

        So apparently, if you’re a writer and a teacher and on a self-sponsored visa, the writing income doesn’t factor into the income requirements for a self-sponsored visa.

      • Charles

        This is apples and oranges. William Massie was worried about side gigs getting teachers in trouble/legal problems. You’re talking about side gigs as a means to generate enough income to make it through a visa renewal (as a self-sponsored visa holder). He was talking about apples, I was responding to him about apples, and now you’re bringing up oranges.

        Immigration telling you that writing doesn’t count for a self-sponsored visa sounds like an oversimplification on their part. Immigration will often lie or simplify the truth to get you to go away (not saying it’s right, but that’s how it is). For example, whenever I get a one-year extension and ask why I didn’t get three years, they usually tell me “You only have a one-year contract.” Well, that’s obviously a load of BS seeing as how almost all English teachers are on one-year contracts, yet many get three-year visas. And them telling you what they told you is the same thing.

        I can tell you why they wouldn’t let the writing gigs apply, and it’s very simple—they were most likely sporadic gigs, not regular gigs with a fixed contract. To get a self-sponsored visa, you need ¥200,000 per month in STABLE income (not sporadic income), and this income can come from multiple sources. It is difficult (though not impossible, depending on the immigration officer) to count stuff like sporadic writing gigs, translations, private lessons, etc. in this income total. If you had gotten a steady job with a company that say, paid ¥50,000 per month to write a steady stream of articles, and had a signed contract with them that you would be doing this for the next year, I’m betting immigration would have taken that far more seriously for your self-sponsored visa (provided that the sum of all your steady gigs reached ¥200,000 or more per month).

      • Perry Constantine

        I’m not so sure that’s the reason. They wouldn’t even look at the sales reports from my writing income, nor did they ask me about whether it was sporadic or not. They just said “if it’s not translation or teaching, it doesn’t count.”

      • Charles

        Here’s another theory for why it wasn’t approved for you: maybe the writing you were doing was for a newspaper, magazine, website, etc. Was it? Even if it wasn’t, maybe that’s what the immigration officer assumed.

        Because there’s a separate “Journalist” visa. I guess writing for a magazine, newspaper, website, etc. would fall within the scope of “Journalist” and not SiH/IS.
        The SiH/IS visa is intended for anyone who works in the humanities/international services field as a professional whose job is not covered by other visas like Instructor, Journalist, etc. It’s not just for teaching and translations. I was once offered an interview at ChinesePod for the Sales Director position, which would have been on the SiH/IS visa, as well.
        Don’t place too much trust in one immigration officer. Sometimes they don’t know the fine intricacies of the law (there are several thick books of immigration law, which I will talk about in a subsequent paragraph). Sometimes they know the law and bend/break it.
        The incident of an immigration officer that sticks the clearest in my mind is when, when I renewed my visa for the third time, I got another one-year visa (I had been working for the same employer for between 2~3 years at that point). I asked them why, and they said “You only have a one-year contract.” I pointed out that people on the JET Programme get three-year visas right off the plane, even though they too only have one-year contracts.

        Later, I met with an immigration lawyer/administrative scrivener who has told me he would prefer to remain anonymous (he was offering immigration counseling services in the city where I was living). He was extremely helpful–he took out his law books, and I found out that basically, although the requirements to get a three-year visa extension are somewhat subjective, size of the company is one of the primary considerations. Perhaps THE most important consideration. It said it right there, in plain Japanese, in his law books. This explained perfectly why JETs get three years and I didn’t, despite this being my third extension.
        And to further refute that immigration officer, both me and my co-worker recently signed contracts that were about two years each. We both got one-year extensions again (I’ve now had five years’ worth of one-year extensions, lucky me). What that immigration officer said was just outright wrong. The immigration lawyer/administrative scrivener was right, and the immigration lawyer was wrong.
        Another example (from Korea, but similar type of thing) was when, in 2006 and 2007, I was inquiring about the F-2 (residence) visa. The Korean immigration officers told me “You can only get it by marrying a Korean.” I doubted this because I had read somewhere that it could also be gotten by living in Korea for seven consecutive years. So I called an immigration lawyer. Sure enough, the immigration lawyer said that I was right–but that the visa I spoke of (F-2 by seven years’ residence) was so rare, most immigration officers had not heard of it before, and even those who had rarely granted it.
        My point here is, take anything immigration officers say with a huge grain of salt. They may have an interest in keeping you on a short leash, or they may just be ignorant (because let’s be honest here, immigration law is a colossal bore if you’re not an immigrant yourself).

      • Perry Constantine

        Thanks for the information. It’s a moot point now anyway, I’ll be leaving the country next year. I’m tired of the constant hoops the immigration officials come up with for me to jump through. Every year I renew my self-sponsored visa, there’s always some new documents I need that I didn’t need the previous year. It’s a total three-ring circus. And I’m betting it’s only going to become worse with these new laws.

        I love Japan, but if the government doesn’t want my tax dollars, I’ll take them somewhere else.

      • Charles

        Amen. I can’t wait until I get permanent residency (if I somehow manage to last that long) and can kiss all these immigration laws, hoops to jump through, etc. goodbye. Too bad that by the time that happens, I will have spent 10 years here and be 34 years old, having blown 15 years on the Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese immigration systems.

        If I didn’t have to worry about visa hoops to jump through, my life would be completely different. Visas and their requirements (especially to maintain them) have definitely held me back.

        My goal is to become a computer programmer. I estimate this goal will happen late next summer or early next fall, if I’m lucky, when I’m 29 (almost 30).

        If I didn’t have all these arbitrary visa hoops to jump through, I would’ve accomplished that goal years ago. Constantly having to teach English just to maintain my visa has interfered with this plan in so many ways.

        Without all the arbitrary visa hoops (mostly to maintain the visa, these days), I would’ve been able to do the things (like quitting English teaching and focusing only on my studies) to allow myself to succeed far more quickly.

        In my opinion, the worst part of the visa system (besides the overt racism of granting better visas to people with Japanese ancestors) is that it takes ten years to get permanent residency. Holding back an individual for 10+ years like that takes an individual who is already starting with less than the average Japanese person, and making it even more difficult for that person to “catch up” and succeed.

        My goal is pretty humble. I just want to be a computer programmer. Even if I’m held back five or ten years, I can still accomplish that goal. Not so with many other professions. If I had higher aspirations, I would either be long gone, or wouldn’t have come at all.

        But yeah, I’m in my 10th year of battling all the immigration hoops to jump through (ever since I moved to Korea in the spring of 2006 when I was 19) and totally know what you mean.

  • qwerty

    I met a japanese guy (in a sauna) recently, he said hello, where are you from? japan is great isn’t it? boom, just like that. I get this kind of stuff all the time. who else says that? it’s cringeworthy
    but nationalism is getting ridiculously strong here
    nationalists need enemies – any foreigners / outsiders will do
    visas? what visas?

    “So it is the human condition that to wish for the greatness of one’s fatherland is to wish evil to one’s neighbors. The citizen of the universe would be the man who wishes his country never to be either greater or smaller, richer or poorer.”
    ― Voltaire

  • Paul Martin

    I have long stated that Japan’s immigration bureau is controlled by blatant anti gaijin racists! My whole family is integrated with Japanese, but bureaucrats are ruining any chances of fair immigration applicants even from close allied countries like the US, UK and Australia. I pointed this out to fellow reporter Osaki years ago when he visited me at the request of the Japan Times editor!
    I and my family who have been married to Japanese for many years 1 with children have had extreme difficulties with Japan’s immigration policies even though we have never overstayed and always complied with documents,etc.
    I also predicted the day may be fast approaching when many if not MOST gaijins will leave and look for friendlier countries and greener pastures!

  • Scrote

    This should mean the end of the Technical Intern Training Program as nearly all of the interns perform manual labour and are only “trained” for the first hour or so of their internship. As such, the interns will be violating the terms of their visas and should be deported under this new law.

    Of course, in reality the government will continue to ignore the blatant abuse of the Technical Intern Training Program as the companies that use it donate generously to the LDP. Thus the new law will just be one more nonsensical addition to the biased and farcical Japanese “justice” system.

  • Paul Martin

    The fact that my comments were removed proves even the Japanese owned and controlled Japan Times is afraid of the truth and free opinions from gaijins !
    Hopefully someday gaijins will control an english newspaper and media and the World can see Japan as it REALLY is full of prejudiced censors who cannot face criticisms from Japanese resident foreigners !