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  • Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 28th, 2008

    Hi Blog. As regular readers know, as of October 1, 2007, all employers must report their NJ employees to the MHLW’s unemployment office, Hello Work, or face fines for potentially employing NJ in violation of their visas.

    We’ve already uncovered on Debito.org some enforcement difficulties in deciding whether this meant NJ employed “full-time” or “part time” (this, as usual from a GOJ that likes grey areas of enforcement, has been left vague), with one case of somebody being demanded his Gaijin Card for receiving 500 yen compensation! Ludicrous.

    Now here’s the next phase. An angry email from a friend of a friend, edited somewhat but with preserved emphases. About a person being hassled by his workplace (Kansai University) regarding issues they clearly know nothing about: over a Re-Entry Permit (being told he’s illegal visawise unless he gets one; wrong) despite being a Permanent Resident. Blogged with permission.

    This is why you don’t let people who know nothing of Immigration law make Immigration decisions. Expect more of this sort of thing in future. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    PREAMBLE FROM FORWARDING FRIEND:

    I got this mail from a colleague the other day. I am sending it (mostly uncut) to the PALE list to show how schools, which are not immigration officials, can mess up and abuse their power in potentially harmful ways.

    Some background:
    Apparently the govt. has asked employers to make sure all of their employees have valid papers to work in Japan. Some colleges, such as Kansai University, has therefore been asking non Japanese teaching personnel to prove their status. Others have ignored this, or gone about it another way. Signed, RR.

    PS The letter did no good, and KanDai is still hasseling the instructor in question. His gaijin card, which they initially told him had expired (it did not, it is good until late 2008) stated that he was on a spouse visa, and since he was recently divorced, KanDai’s interpretation was that he was no long legally in the country. The problem is that the cards are good for 10 years, and that the card holder had subsequently moved to permanent resident status, a change that was not reflected in the actual card.

    FORWARDED EMAIL FOLLOWS:

    ————————–
    Maybe you can clarify this issue for me. Please read the letter below that I sent to Kandai.

    While I have not renewed my Reentry Permit yet (which expired in October; from what I understand from many foreign teachers who have Permanent Resident status here, the only problem with having this expire and not renewed is that I cannot get back into Japan–if I leave), I planned to renew it after my classes ended. I have been too busy to go to the Marutamachi office during the semester.

    I went to the ward office with a Japanese friend after Kandai told me that I was here illegally. The ward office staff there told me (after seeing my passport and Gaijin Card) that there was no problem with me being here illegally–that I am a PR and therefore legal–and that there is no PR visa that expires.

    Kandai still insists that there is a problem. I will go to Marutamachi office later this week–when my friend has time to go. I do not want to go alone, because, if there is a problem, I would be arrested and probably thrown in jail. I want someone to know that I have been arrested, so that they can contact a lawyer or the union.

    ====================================

    Dear Ueno-sama,

    Enclosed are copies of the relevant stamps in my passport. Please pass them—and this letter—on to the appropriate person.

    I am a PERMANENT RESIDENT in Japan. Please be clear on this point. I have talked with NUMEROUS people (ward office staff and foreign permanent residents teachers of long standing here) about the problem that your office has with my “Gaijin Card”–and they all say that your office is reading the card wrong and that your office apparently does not understand the laws and regulations concerning foreign resident status.

    On Christmas Day (a religious holiday for me), I went down to my ward office—and they told me that there was NOTHING ILLEGALLY WRONG with my status here and that they see NO PROBLEM.

    Now, I must go down to the Immigration Office (and waste one more day of my time to sort this problem out because after the new year began, your office, again, insisted that there was a problem.

    I am sure that there is NOTHING ILLEGAL about my documents—the pertinent one has not expired. From what I understand, the PR visa does not even have to be renewed.

    Nevertheless, because your office keeps INSISTING THAT I AM HERE ILLEGALLY, I MUST WASTE ANOTHER DAY IN ORDER TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THIS MATTER. I WILL ASK THE IMMIGRATION OFFICE TO CALL YOUR OFFICE—OR TO WRITE YOUR OFFICE A LETTER–TO INFORM YOU AS TO HOW PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS HERE WORKS.

    Your office has asked to see my card a few times now and you have made numerous copies. You have asked to see my passport, which, legally, there is no reason your office needs to see this.

    I HOPE THAT THESE COPIES FINALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

    I only say all of this because your office has caused me much stress over this matter (having an expired visa is cause for arrest, imprisonment–and deportation here—quite harsh punishments—and quite racist, as a matter of fact). So, your office has caused me much worry and wasted time on this matter.

    It really makes me wonder if I have been singled out for harassment because I am a union member at Kandai. I will forward a copy of this to my union president, just so my union is aware of this issue. (Ueno-sama, I realize that you are only doing what you are told—but the people in the office should make it a point to understand the law.)
    Sincerely,< <
    __._,_.___
    ENDS

    12 Responses to “Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…”

    1. kugatsudad Says:

      Kandai PR Harassment–Give’em the Form

      It may indeed be true that Kandai is just using immigration law as an excuse to get rid of a foreigner, but on the assumption that Kandai is genuinely confused…

      1. The Law to Amend a Portion of The Employment Measures Law and the Regional Employment Development Law ( 雇用対策法及び地域雇用開発促進法の一部を改正する法律 ) requires that all employers in Japan report their foreign workers (gaikokujin rodosha) as of October 1, 2007. The employer is advised to check either the foreigner’s gaikokujin toroku shomeisho (“gaijin card”) or the foreigner’s passport. The example shown at

      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/bunya/koyou/gaikokujin-koyou/dl/gaikokujin-koyou01.pdf

      advises that the employer copy the passport page with the re-entry permit. Perhaps this is the source of the Kandai friction.

      2. However, you can receive (for a fee of a few hundred yen) from your local ward office an official document “Certificate of Recorded Matters” ( 登録原票記載事項証明書) that lists the portions of your status you wish to submit. These should be name, birthdate, sex, nationality, immigration status and permitted length of stay. This certificate will show, if you are a PR (Special PRs, i.e., residents of Imperial Japan’s former colonies, are exempt) that you have PR status and that you have no restriction on your length of stay. This certificate is adequate to show that you are working within your visa status.

      3. Don’t rely on the oral assurances of immigration or your local ward office. Pay the few hundred yen, get the certificate on forgery-resistant paper with the official seal, and let the Japanese idolatry of official-looking documents beat Kandai into submission.

      4. You could also try telling Kandai that they are already past the October 1, 2007 deadline, so they should take your certificate and file now rather than wait for the irrelevant re-entry permit. Or you could let them copy your “gaijin card,” but it contains more personal information than is required by law (like your foreign passport number, Japan address, foreign address and signature).

      Stick to your rights–you are a PR. And join the FRANCA-J group.

    2. HO Says:

      “The problem is that the cards are good for 10 years, and that the card holder had subsequently moved to permanent resident status, a change that was not reflected in the actual card.”

      Why not?
      If the visa status of a foreigner changes from “Spouse of Japanese” to “Permanent Resident”, the foreigner should report to the city hall and get his alien registration card endorsed.
      Is the visa change endorsed on the gaijin card?

    3. topaz Says:

      HO is right. The employee should have gotten his alien registration card updated when his status changed, and made sure it was done properly. That’s why the law says the card is acceptable as proof for the employer, and I haven’t read anything that leads me to believe the university wouldn’t have accepted it if it indicated his permanent residence.

      Gosh, I hope the original expiration date of his previous spouse visa hasn’t passed, or he’s going to have some tough explaining to do if he ever gets one of those famous random spot checks from the police. It will look like he’s overstayed, even if the police assume he’s still married.

    4. topaz Says:

      Following up to my own comment, I re-read the article. The middleman who forwarded the mail said the alien registration card wasn’t updated. But the original email from the employee seems to hint that perhaps it *is* updated properly, yet the university doesn’t know how to read the card. I have to admit, the notation for amendments on the back of the card is a bit cryptic. But still, bad on the university if the problem is their misunderstanding of how to read alien registration cards. I take back my previous comment if this is the case.

    5. Greg M Says:

      Even if the OP had his registration card updated, the updated info would have been handwritten on the back which, as many of you know, people who check the card often fail to flip over to confirm.

    6. icarus Says:

      Debito, if it’s possible, can you please forward all of these great comments to the person with the problem at his university. As far as I’m concerned this is a non-issue because as Kugatsudad mentioned, he can get official paperwork from his local ward office and put an end to this nonesense. I hope he gets things cleared up!

      On a side note, I do sympathize with this person because the whole card front and back thing is just silly. I don’t know what happens in other countries, but why is it so hard to get new cards printed? Every time I have to show the card to someone, I have to go out of my way to explain that only the information on the back is valid at this point in time.

      –I WILL OF COURSE LET THE PALE LIST KNOW AND MY FRIEND CAN PASS ON THE INFORMATION. THANKS VERY MUCH TO EVERYONE FOR COMMENTING; KEEP THEM COMING!

    7. Ke5in Says:

      Since when is not understanding or being in total ignorance of the law a barrier to being an officious bureaucrat? Increment the “following the rules blindly even though I don’t know what the rules are” tally :(

      Hope he gets it sorted out without raising his blood pressure any further …!

    8. Neil Says:

      Icarus:

      It is my understanding that most city halls/ward offices will only replace your old gaijin card with a new one under two cirumstances:

      1.) The old one has expired

      2.) You lost your current one.

      We can extrapolate, therefore, that the next time you go into a ward office, say that you lost your gaijin card and want a new one. My old one is such a mess from city hall office scribbles that I would go get a new one myself if it didn’t expire in June anyway…

      –I HAD THE SAME EXPERIENCE WHEN I CHANGED MY NAME AND CITIZENSHIP AFTER NATURALIZATION, AND NEEDED TO UPDATE MY DRIVER LICENSE TO REFLECT MY CURRENT STATUS.

      MOREOVER I DIDN’T HAVE A GAIJIN CARD ANYMORE, SO WITHOUT PROOF OF MY HONSEKI ON IT I HAD NO REAL PROOF OF MY CITIZENSHIP, SAVE WHAT WAS WRITTEN ON THE BACK. AND I CERTAINLY WASN’T GOING TO RELY ON HANDWRITTEN SCRAWL ON THE REVERSE TO CARRY ANY LEGITIMACY.

      SO I “LOST” MY OLD DRIVER LICENSE. ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORIES I’VE WRITTEN IS AVAILABLE HERE.
      http://www.debito.org/kikaupdate5.html
      DEBITO

    9. Kimpatsu Says:

      Even if the employee had the back of his gaijin card updated, if his experiences are anything like mine, he will be forever telling officials to read tha back as well as the front, which shows only the information from the time when you first received the card. If you mvoe house, for exampole, the info is updated on the back, but Japanese bureaucrats don’t think to look there. Yet another problem with the cards.

    10. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE.

      Just a very short observation. One way to deal with situations like
      this is to try and pit one group (in this case, the university)
      against another (i.e. immigration). If you can reach a point where
      immigration thinks that the university is making decisions in areas
      they shouldn’t, you have got it made.

    11. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

      At some point a legal rep may have to simply make an appearance or write a letter telling them, in effect, to cease and desist. People who do this can until they are literally told to stop by a higher authority, attorneys often do the trick, and it has to be verified, public if necessary.

      I had a tax dispute with the ward office and the ward officer kept saying he’d have me deported. The dean of the school insisted that was the deal and I’d lose my job. Even after the ward officer backed off when my attorney told him to stop violating the law, the dean would not shut up. Finally a letter from the attorney was sent and a phone call was made to the university who then notified the school dean that the issue was finished and he was not to insist that there was any irregularity—then he shut up.

      When dealing with pig-headed bastards or just simply moronic twits, you may need a sledge hammer to get their attention. They may not actually have anything else to do. And too, someone may be pushing them from behind.

    12. John k Says:

      In answer to #6, each time my Japanese wife (girl friend at that time) entered the UK, at the immigration counter at the airport (on entering the country), produced her valid passport, her valid visa and a letter from the Home Office, which correlates and corroborates the visa issued, that she is legally allowed into the country beyond the usual 90days and is entitled to work under certain conditions. After several trips, she commented that the immigration officers didn’t check all the details as diligently as they did first time too. Perhaps assumed that since she had been granted status to stay and work before, the paper work must be correct.

      Beyond that, once inside the UK, she was never questioned again. It is assumed that once ‘inside’ she has the same legal rights and work rights etc as any national. Hence her “status” and “eligibility” are never questioned. Some “jobs worth” employers do want to see evidence of legality to work, but save for that, there is no scrutiny or hounding or constant presumption of guilt, as there is here.

      In the early 1990s I worked and lived in Australia for 3~4 years. I was only asked upon entering at the airport do I enjoy Oz….since my visa was correct, there was no “interrogation”. My employer sponsored me to stay beyond the 1 year visa I had. Even though my visa had expired, once the process has begun, one cannot be deported until the application is concluded. And, like the UK, once approved, I was never asked for ‘proof’ again; it is assumed once ‘inside’ you are legal.

      The open attitude of the UK and Oz with regards to immigration and employment of said, is in stark contrast to that of Japan.

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