Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 13:53:32 +0900
From: bob neff <>

I rarely go on the internet so probably won't have occasion to visit The Community's URL. But if you want an example of non-transparency of immigration laws, I've got one for you.

Three years ago I decided to apply for an eijuuken. Before going to the Yokohama immigration office with my Japanese wife (we live in Kanagawa-ken), I carefully read a book published in 1989 in both Japanese and English by the Japan Immigration Association, an affiliate of the Ministry of Justice. You probably have it. It's called "Gaikokujin no tame no Nyuukoku, Zairyuu, Touroku, Tetsusuki no Tebiki," or "A Guide to Entry, Residence and Registration Procedures in Japan for Foreign Nationals." On page 157, under the section "Permission for Permanent Residence," one reads that "There is no rule on the residence history. However, the fact that the person has continuously resided in Japan for 5 years or more is usually counted in practice (not required for former Japanese nationals, spouses and children of Japanese...."

We confidently went to the information window and asked for any forms required to apply for permanent residency. The woman asked me how many consecutive years I had lived in Japan. I said that I had lived here consecutively for eight years and for a total of 18 years. "Then you can't apply," she said. "Why?" I asked. "Because you have to live here for 20 consecutive years before you can apply," she replied. We explained our understanding of the rules but she wasn't interested. It soon became clear that no amount of suasion would budge her. Since my visa was about to expire I chose to apply for a spouse visa on the spot and got one with no problem.

Returning home, I wrote to an acquaintance who was a kacho in the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau to enquire what was going on. He wrote me a very nice reply, stating that my understanding of the rules was completely correct. However, he said, there had recently been "temporary guidance" from the Ministry to curb the number of eijuuken to be issued. Each local immigration bureau office could interpret this any way they saw fit, he said. But he sympathized with me and said that next time I wanted to apply for an eijuuken I should contact him and he would try to grease the wheels. So far I haven't taken him up on his offer. (snip)


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