National / Crime & Legal

46 Chinese workers disappear in Hokkaido after 11 arrested over visa issues

Kyodo

Forty-six Chinese construction workers in Hokkaido have vanished after 11 compatriots were arrested over their eligibility to stay in the country, sources related to their work said Monday.

The 11 Chinese, between the ages of 27 and 62, were arrested in the early hours of Nov. 26 near JR Kikonai Station on suspicion of violating the immigration control law. Two were supposedly not carrying passports and nine are believed to have overstayed their visas.

It was not immediately clear under which visas they had entered Japan.

Of the 11, 10 were men who were working at the same construction site in the town of Shiriuchi as the 46 who just disappeared.

According to the sources, the arrested Chinese workers and others were dispatched to Hokkaido from a company in Chiba Prefecture around September to build a solar power plant.

A total of 58 Chinese were living in the town of Kikonai, some 17 km away from the construction site. One of them died due to illness on Nov. 25, while 11 were arrested.

After their arrest, a related official visited the workers’ living arrangements and discovered the remaining 46 had disappeared, the sources said.

Hokkaido Prefectural Police officials are investigating whether the employers were aware the workers were overstaying their visas.