Mainichi: Official figures for NJ visa overstayers drop again in 2007 (UPDATED)


Hi Blog. Here’s another bit of good news as far as the GOJ is concerned–their tabulations indicate that NJ overstayers have dropped for the fourteenth straight year. Comment follows article.

Nearly 150,000 visa overstayers in Japan as of Jan. 1: Justice Ministry
Mainichi Daily News February 29, 2008
Courtesy of Jeff Korpa

Nearly 150,000 foreigners were illegally residing in Japan on expired visas as of the beginning of this year, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

As of Jan. 1, there were 149,785 foreigners staying in Japan without valid visas, down 21,054 or 12.3 percent from the year earlier, according to the ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

South Korean nationals account for the largest number at 31,758, followed by Chinese (25,057) and Filipinos (24,741), accounting for more than half of illegally residing foreign nationals in total.

The number of illegal residents in Japan has been declining since it peaked in 1993, bureau officials said.
(Mainichi Japan) February 29, 2008

COMMENT: The stated goal in 2003 under Koizumi was to cut the number of overstayers by half.

But then again we could spin this development as bad news. There were an estimated 220,000 illegals in Japan back in 2003. It’s estimated at 150,000 now. That’s only a 32% drop. Oh oh. Looks like they won’t make their target by next year.

So here’s the spin: “The numbers have fallen, but they’re still much higher than they were twenty years ago. They’ve just plateaued at a high level.” Use this logic to justify another crackdown, like the NPA did a few days ago in the face of falling NJ crime rates?

Fortunately, the article below doesn’t get into that. Perhaps the Justice Ministry is a little less pandering to the fear factor than the NPA? In any case, I’m sure the NPA will somehow continue to say the number of visa overstayers is rising (they have insinuated as such during the past fourteen years even when both NJ crime and overstaying fell), or that the fall doesn’t matter.

NJ can’t win. If you follow GOJ pretzel logic, the only way they can “win” is if they aren’t here at all, I guess.
Some more insights on overstaying (and the GOJ overdoing it policywise) in Japan:
Japan Times, June 29, 2004
and also
Oops, in my zeal to research past NPA and GOJ data spins, I neglected to mention a spin within the Mainichi Shinbun itself:

The Japanese version of the article mentions:

My translation: “In addition, the number of people refused entry at the border for not having valid visas last year dropped from the the previous year by 986 people, to 10,424. Of that total, 128 of them were refused entry by Immigration through the new fingerprinting and photograph system, in effect since November 20 last year.”

Odd how this news on the fingerprinting stuff was left out of the English translation. Not of interest to English-language readers? Or just of more interest to Japanese readers ‘cos the media wants to show the Japanese public that their new tax boondoggle is actually somehow working?

But reporting this is a little premature (hard to say anything definitive about the system after only six weeks in operation)–unless you want to help the system out with some boosterism (as opposed to news).

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

1 comment on “Mainichi: Official figures for NJ visa overstayers drop again in 2007 (UPDATED)

  • Debito, I’m not sure how you can go from some questionable spin on the part of the government to “NJ can’t win. They just shouldn’t be here at all, I guess.”
    With the start of your new article about activism in the Japan Times, maybe it’s time to turn over a new leaf and head into the year on a positive note. For example, instead of “NJ can’t win” maybe we could tell ourselves, there’s still more work to be done. I still believe we’re making progress and if we continue to see these statistics work against the government year after year, eventually the word is going to get out.

    –I was being sarcastic. The only way the NPA, for example, is ever going to be satisfied with their efforts regarding foreign crime (and not need to call for a crackdown) is not if foreign crime is zero (for logic I explained in a previous post), but logically if foreigners in Japan are zero. No foreigners, no foreign crime, nobody to crack down upon. It was reductio ad absurdum. I wasn’t advocating that people leave. Sorry for the misunderstanding.


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