American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

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Hi Blog.  Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries.

As Debito.org concurs with a resounding cheer (as it’s what we’ve been saying all along), the ACCJ notes in its second statement:

“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”

Bravo.  This is in addition to the recent Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students.  Courtesy of TJL.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN JAPAN CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN FOR EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL RESIDENTS

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0c1ed4aee1c9281ab07fc0/1594629845288/200713+PR_English.pdf

JULY 13, 2020 [TOKYO] – The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality.

“Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

The ACCJ requests that the Japanese Government establish a re-entry permit or process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan.

The ACCJ also requests that any measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long- term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa.

Finally, the ACCJ would like to see the Japanese government announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue their contributions to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.  ENDS

About ACCJ

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The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) was established in 1948 by representatives of 40 American companies. Over its 72-year history, the ACCJ has positioned itself as one of the most influential business organizations in Japan. The ACCJ has approximately 3,000 members who together represent over 600 globally minded companies with offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. Working closely with the U.S. and Japanese governments, business organizations and others, the ACCJ engages in activities that advance its mission of further developing commerce between the U.S. and Japan, promoting the interests of U.S. companies and members, and improving the international business environment in Japan including the commitment to demonstrating responsible corporate citizenship. The ACCJ’s more than 60 committees represent a variety of industries and make policy recommendations through advocacy tools such as viewpoints, public comments, and white papers. The ACCJ holds on average 500 events and seminars a year, many of which focus on government policy and economic trends. The ACCJ is also committed to promoting charitable and CSR activities.

PRESS CONTACT: ACCJ Communications (comms@accj.or.jp)

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FULL ACCJ STATEMENT

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0433e6e9c21e3821625bca/1594110951359/200707+Second+Statement+on+re-entry+travel+restrictions.pdf

July 7, 2020

Second Statement on Re-entry Restrictions Placed on Permanent Resident and Visa Holders

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) expresses our concerns regarding Japan’s immigration authorities’ limitations on the entry of non-Japanese nationals residing in Japan during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ACCJ understands and supports Japan’s efforts to protect itself from further spread of the virus, including Japan’s decision to enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine on those returning to Japan from countries where the risk is greatest. We also recognize the progress in clarifying the conditions and criteria for, and the process under which, foreign residents of Japan may receive permission to re-enter Japan for humanitarian reasons.

We are concerned, however, that the prohibition currently in place on the entry into Japan of foreign nationals who have a permanent abode, family, and work base in Japan is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

We would also note that through the payment of local and national taxes, the consumption of goods and services from the local economy, and the support for companies both local and international, Japan’s foreign residents and workers play an important role in ensuring Japan’s economic growth and good relations with global partners. Their contributions will be all the more important as Japan looks to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful that the Government of Japan treated the foreign community in Japan on an equal basis by designating duly registered foreign residents as eligible for the recent COVID-19 stimulus payment.

More immediately, we respectfully request that the Japanese Government establish a process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan. This is because airlines are generally obligated to return, at their own expense, travelers rejected entry to a country. For this reason, we understand that many airlines are refusing to board any non-Japanese nationals on flights to Japan because of the regulatory uncertainty. This process could be notionally similar to the current re-entry permit application system, and it could be thought of as a “coronavirus re-entry permit” granted at the time the traveler leaves Japan or by special application to a designated Japanese Embassy, Consulate or other designated entity.

We respectfully request that, as the government’s Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters considers which further steps it might take to ease restrictions on travel and measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, any decisions also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long-term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa. At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals. In the event that is not done, any guidance provided should be based on objective standards and any advance clearance provided should be in writing and should be recognized as an official approval at the point of entry into Japan.

We hope that the Japanese government will announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue contributing to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.

We respectfully request that the Japanese government considers these concerns and suggestions as critical work continues to protect Japan from the effects of the pandemic and encourage its recovery. ENDS

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20 comments on “American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

  • Thank you for posting this pertinent information regarding re-entry. I departed Haneda in June and it was eerily a ghost town and staff were extremely odd seemingly following foreigners around with random checkpoints. I was stopped to have my passport checked before the boarding gate and then checked prior to that before entering the security checkpoint leading to immigration, which was abnormal to me. Normally when you depart the country you exit via immigration booths. I had to go to a separate counter and forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry which I reluctantly signed because had I not signed, immigration officials probably wouldn’t have let me proceed or questioned me. Had I known that I was essentially forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry, I would’ve considered not leaving. Now, I can no longer see my wife and children. My residency (spouse of Japanese national) card expires later this year and I am not sure when I can see my wife and children again, which has caused me stress, hardship, and sadness. Immigration rules and regulations are ambiguous and definitely inconsistent with convoluted wording purposely to deny entry to foreign residents such as myself. I’m beginning to think Japan is returning to Edo period. This doesn’t help PR for the Olympics. I was tested for COVID-19 immediately returning to the states and was negative and have documentation proving it. I wonder how many Japanese nationals have been tested prior to re-entry or whether immigration officials would even accept documentation proving I am negative. I highly doubt they would, even though most Japanese nationals are not getting tested and I’m sure salary men coming and going from Japan are not tested traveling to countries that are on immigrations list of banned countries. I am surprised Nigeria has not been put on the banned list of countries. Such discrepancies from immigration are reprehensible to me and should be brought to the attention of world human rights organizations. I can’t believe Japan gets away with these bellicose policies. Instead you see propaganda even in the US promoting how great Japan has handled the virus and how welcoming Japan is to foreigners. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Reply
    • Neverawajin says:

      As nasty as is it, I am not surprised at all, is perfectly within character for them. I always expect the worst from this country and this people. Now what I’m seeing though, is this flagrant violation of human rights turning out to be a reality check for some of the biggest apologists who are here (or now barred from entry) and directly affected by the true colors of Japan like any other average gaijin.

      Reply
      • Definitely a reality check to the bigots and hypocrites including foreign residents that uphold the Japan propaganda model. Debito is one if not the only former foreigner that has the courage to say what’s really going on in Japan. It’s definitely reassuring to read comments like yours that make me not feel isolated. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Jim Di Griz says:

          Speaking of which, I am routinely critical here on Debito.org of Japan Times articles by Rachel Kopp, who writes exclusively about working as an NJ executive in Japan (although, since she works as a teacher in Kyushu, I’m not sure how she’d know), and never fails to play the apologist ‘it’s not racism, it’s just a different culture’ card.
          Well, not anymore! It seems the re-entry ban has affected her social bubble in some way;
          ‘we’ll always just be ‘pawns,’ second-class residents, that can be discarded whenever Japan enters into a crisis’.
          Ooooh! Get her!
          Like Greg Clarke, it’s amazing how suddenly apologists ‘flip’ when it’s personal.
          https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/07/17/issues/re-entry-ban-businesses-talent/

          Reply
          • Telltale sign:

            “She recently published ‘Manga de Wakaru Gaikokujin to no Hatarakikata‘ (‘Learn How to Work With Non-Japanese Through Manga.’)”

            The English “translation” of the title has been slightly sanitized to cover up the obvious absurdity of the original Japanese title (“How to work with ‘foreigners'”). Of course she’s unwilling to stray from the “approved” problematic diction and use the words 非日本人, 移民, or 少数民族の人, which are more accurate.

            Regardless, the notion that someone needs some kind of special training to work with immigrants or minorities is in and of itself nonsense. I think you meant to write a book titled “How to stop being racist in the workplace.” (Hint: the entire world outside of Japan is not the same, so unless you’re operating based on racist drivel, there is no possible way to offer any meaningful advice about “how to work with non-Japanese” other than “stop being a racist cad.”)

            I wish there was something we could do to effectively silence and shutdown apologists like her; it’s a constant game of 一進一退 with these buffoons.

        • Neverawajin says:

          Appreciate your comment as well. Debito’s work has facilitated the means to endure this nonsense of a country all this years for me. I think the disgusting policy move serves as a particular equalizing blanket for everyone not holding a Japanese passport.
          Until now many have been easily able to engage in denial and look the other way reg the systemic Japanese discrimination, racism and bigotry, as long as for whatever reason ( short time in Japan, privileged status, vested businesses/professional interests, white privilege, escapism approach to life, etc. ) didn’t feel directly affected (not happening to me = doesn’t exist). Now, not so easy… No matter how beautiful their little Japanese bubble has been so far, their ground in this society can look very different once there is a need (personal/family emergency, business, etc) requesting to travel out of Japan.
          Like most, I am currently deeply affected by this ban and do not expect Japan to change a bit ( unless finding a way to effectively ratting them out international and/or shaming them big time for this, but with all what’s going on in the world currently I think its highly unlikely), but will be definitively interesting to also see how things pan out for the unconditional apologists and Japan’s pets ( and not that I was claiming you to be one of them by any means btw) I see starting to cry rivers on different sites.

          Reply
  • GaijinLivesMatter says:

    “long-term working visas” is problematic terminology in Japan. It will be interpreted as meaning those with the so called “long-term resident” (定住者) residence status that allows them to freely work, but these individuals, if anything, are less in danger than those on employer-sponsored working visas such as “Instructor” or “Entertainer”, since if the latter are not allowed back into Japan and lose their jobs as a result, they may also lose their residence status.

    Reply
  • realitycheck says:

    Keep in mind that this is a country that likes to take contradictory stances on legal matters such as permitting foreign employees to work here but keeping their status low as if we are all glorified tourists who decided to stay on for the hell of it.

    We need only consider the inconsistency and yes, systemic cynicism, of the classification of ‘Permanent Resident’ for tax purposes.After a certain period of time foreigners resident in Japan are deemed to be PR and thus Japan has the right to demand they declare savings back home, assets back home and even inheritances including when the foreigner’s own country does not impose inheritance tax.

    Keep in mind this is done WITHOUT actually giving foreigners the legal visa of Permanent Residence. So it’s PR when it suits Japan to snoop into foreigners’ finances back home but that actually isn’t the real PR that would give them any rights of a Permanent Resident. Double think is part of the society and system here and it is shameless.

    Reply
    • PR and thus Japan has the right to demand they declare savings back home, assets back home and even inheritances including when the foreigner’s own country does not impose inheritance tax.”

      Really? Actually this is the reason why I turned down PR, as I was about to claim benefits from overseas.

      But youre saying they do this anyway even if the foreigner doesnt have PR status? Sounds doubtful.

      Reply
      • realitycheck says:

        Yes, they do. It used to be after 5 years of residence in Japan – some years ago when I was living in a different prefecture and working for myself I was handed a form to list my home country’s money in terms of bank interest, investments, etc.
        I declined by saying there was nothing to declare and there wasn’t much at all. But I didn’t see why Japan wanted to tax me again based on bank interest and other savings/investments’ interests that had already been taxed at source.
        I’m surprised you never heard of this but those who are protected by having one employer and being a company employee don’t have to go to the tax office in person. Lucky you. Those who have to do their own tax run up against this fun fact.
        Now I hear the period after which you are treated like PR for tax purposes while not actually being PR legally has been extended to 10 years.
        But Japan has pulled this trick for some time as my first experience with this was years ago.

        Reply
        • Taxation without representation. OK, heres another fun fact; on ebay if you list the country of the product as “Japan”, even if its second hand and you are not in Japan, you will now theoretically receive a tax bill from Japan for sale of goods.

          Seems like they really need money and are scraping the barrel.

          Reply
        • Hi realitycheck, without proffering tax advice (and to greatly simplify), once you’ve spent five out of the last ten years in Japan you become a “permanent” tax resident regardless of your visa status. At that point you begin paying Japanese income taxes on your worldwide income and therefore must declare any overseas income (such as interest from your overseas savings account). The impact, however, shouldn’t be that dire as Japan has tax treaties with most countries that will credit any taxes you are paying at the source against your Japanese tax (unless you are from a particularly low-tax jurisdiction). For what it’s worth, if you were residing in the US on a visa, in most cases you would start paying taxes on your worldwide income from year one.

          As sendaiben points out, “permanent” for tax purposes has nothing to do with your immigration status. In fact, the tax world uses “permanent” for a variety of things that aren’t really “permanent” in the traditional sense (e.g., a “permanent” establishment), so you can’t really blame the government for this one. By the way, you shouldn’t need to report your overseas assets (as opposed to income) unless you meet the thresholds, which are significant. It is also worth mentioning that if you do have significant assets, you may not want to get a permanent resident visa or spouse visa, for example, so that you can avoid application of the exit tax if you do decide to leave Japan. (As always, seek your own tax advice.)

          Reply
      • There are two separate things: permanently resident for tax purposes (basically you’ve been here 5 years) and permanent resident immigration status (you applied for and got the permanent resident status). The two have nothing to do with one another but Japan uses almost the same English for both.

        Why, Japanese government, why?

        Reply
  • chottomat says:

    I’m going to leave Japan on 7th August for the UK for ‘medical reasons’ with my spouse visa.

    I phoned the immigration and they said it was a case of “on the day you return, you state your reason for leaving to the immigration clerk, and they decide on the spot whether to let you back in or not. Supporting documentation would help, he said/

    Still doesn’t get around the blatant racism, though.

    Reply
  • ShauninMiyagi says:

    I haven’t posted here in quite some time, but with the abhorrent situation as it is I must say something. The reprensable circumstances for Chris above are something that nobody should face at any time in their life. The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least.
    Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:
    “Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
    “Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
    “(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.
    “(2) (abbrev.)”
    Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.
    This is literally the Government of Japan sticking their middle finger at us who have contributed so much to the nation. With one 3 page notice, the MoJ has arbitrarily revoked both our legal status here and the basic human rights to free movement and to domicile, not to mention the human rights of our spouses and children.
    Frankly, with the government’s complete lack of abilities and policies for the current pandemic, and now this, the latest instance of their complete disregard for legal residents, I’ve had enough. After 36 years here, with nearly 30 years as a law abiding taxpayer, I’ve decided to get out while I still can. I am in the process of tying up all loose ends and returning to my country of birth, which I might add has not had any community trasmission of COVID-19 for over two and a half months.
    (Dr. Arudou, I do have screenshots of the MoJ document both in English and Japanese. As I cannot upload them here, I will send them to you separately if possible.)

    — I have received them and will put them up shortly. Thanks very much.

    Reply
    • Thank you for this. Your empathetic comment and diligence on this matter is greatly appreciated. It’s great to read the comments that have been posted in hopes of reversing these policies implemented by the MOJ. The documentation that you and others provide to Dr. Arudou definitely will help shed light on this and hopefully prove several points. They can’t argue with facts, although we know who we are dealing with. I am hanging onto the document I signed at immigration and if needed will present that as evidence along with my negative COVID test results and will gladly test again if needed. These polices put into place by Japanese immigration and MOJ should be cringeworthy to an Olympics host nation and are quite despicable. I hope others that are experiencing the same situation as me are able to return to their loved ones and the life they established in Japan. I do believe this will be an ongoing battle especially with this pandemic and destabilization in the the region and other worldwide hot spots. I think this pandemic has given an excuse to Japan to close it’s doors possibly indefinitely and plays into the hands of those within the Japanese government and paramilitary organizations that don’t want foreigners in Japan regardless of their positive contributions to society and proven good track record.

      Furthermore, recently I watched a special on PBS highlighting how benign and compassionate Japan is to African nations by allowing a certain African country’s athletes to train in Japan for the Olympics because their country was suffering from turmoil. Such hypocrisy when they bar legal residents from re-entry to see their families and return to their work etc. Pure propaganda by Japan. I couldn’t help but find this kind of hypocrisy as laughable. I couldn’t believe this was being aired on PBS. Does PBS even realize the human rights violations in Japan? This is a an organization that is vocal about inhumane treatment of foreigners in the U.S. but supports and aired this propaganda from Japan. How does Japan get away with this? I guess money speaks.

      Reply
  • realitycheck says:

    One of the problems is our home countries mostly play fair with Japan while it plays dirty with us. The outrage here that accompanied the Trump Administration’s wrongful move to cancel foreign students’ visas if most or all of their classes were shifted online was only because Japanese students would have been affected.
    Yet there is no connection made with the fact that legal residents – not tourists – who pay into the tax system and therefore support the social program are being treated much worse.
    For those Japanese who keep telling me that this is only to protect Japan, I ask why then is Japan a G7 member, the only member doing this to its legal foreign residents?
    There is no reasonable answer given to me. World-wid,e Japanese citizens who are also residents of other countries enjoy privileges their Government and by extension the Japanese people who approve such actions, refuse to give foreigners in Japan.
    There are also some instances of pension agreements that privilege Japanese people over foreigners in the pension system in Japan.
    It’s time to put pressure on our own governments to start demanding equal treatment for their citizens.There is no inclination to do such normal actions in this society so it has to be done by applying pressure and flatly telling the Japanese Government that their own citizens will lose their preferential treatment.
    This is a symptom of a deeper problem in Japanese society. A Japanese person I know had the audacity to shrug off members of his international company being refused entry to Japan. He said it wasn’t discrimination but I put him right about that.
    I also told him he had benefited greatly from the non Japanese system in his company and had he been a foreigner in a Japanese company, he would never have reached his current position of privilege.
    He probably won’t speak to me again but that’s fine. This and other attitudes from a Japanese who has lived abroad and been given equal treatment in non-Japanese societies and companies, are pretty normal.
    Japan is changing? Don’t bet on it. It can only be shamed into change as those Japanese who stand with us are hugely outnumbered. More power to Dr Debito and those fighting the good fight.

    Reply
  • The rules have changed to worse. Every foreigner who wants to step in to the beautiful country must submit test result for covid to the nearest embassy along with another document to be filled out to ask for confirmation of reentry even though one have already reentry sticker. I confirmed in one of the countries in Europe about test. They told me that without symptoms they won’t test anyone. This means that J Gov. don’t know facts but require impossible. It looks like they really don’t want foreigners back even those with Japanese spouses and children. Foreigners are the ones to blame for the virus as Japanese never carry one or spread in the plane. Japan don’t test but expect other countries will do the job for them?

    Reply

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