MOJ Immigration Bureau violates privacy of marriage with new visa “shitsumon sho”


Hey Blog. This might make you think I wasn’t so crazy by naturalizing after all:

IHi Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Going through two weeks of examination hell (mine–the biannual 20-minute oral examinations of 100 students), so my brain’s a bit fried. Still, this week’s installment:


and finally…



January 12, 2007, freely forwardable
Real-time blog updates at



Tokyo Immigration (Nyuukoku Kanri Kyoku)’s questionnaire for granting Spouse Visas (haiguusha biza) has since been adopted nationwide, as part of screening out fake marriages (gizou kekkon).

It’s available to the general public on the Nyuukan section of the Ministry of Justice Website:

According to the site, application procedures for Status of Residence for many longer-term visas (i.e. anything over three months) now require three documents (section reading “shinseisho youshiki”):

1) An application for Certificate of Eligibility (zairyuu shikaku nintei shoumeisho koufu shinseisho)
(same as before, form contents depending on what kind of visa you want)

2) A Guarantor, through a Letter of Guarantee (mimoto hoshousho) (Japanese) (laughably unprofessional English)
I don’t know how new this is, but I never had to have one of these forms signed (granted, this was more than ten years ago, when I was still a foreigner).

And, newest of all,
3) an eight-page “Shitsumon Sho” (Question Sheet) in Japanese only, given to the Japanese spouse of the foreign applicant.

This Shitsumon Sho is now required (according to footnote four in the quadrant reading “shinseisho youshiki”) for 1) all Japanese spouses, 2) all Japanese spouses of Permanent Residents, and 3) all Japanese spouses of Nikkei who are applying for a visa.

Opening with a wavy-underlined statement (like an FBI warning before a video) stating (all translations mine), “Bear in mind that any part of this form adjudged as contravening the truth may incur disadvantages when being considered by officials,” this form in fascinating in its intrusiveness:

SECTION ONE asks that the applicant state his name and nationality, and the spouse do the same. Home address and home and work phone. Living together or not.

Fine. Then it asks whether you rent or own, the space of your abode (in LDK), and how much you pay in rent per month.

SECTION TWO asks for your love story, from meeting until marriage. It gives you nearly a page (attach more if you need) to write down the date you met, where you met, whether or not you were introduced, and your whole love life (kekkon ni itatta kei’i, ikisatsu) until you got married.

(It avoids asking about your favorite positions. Still, it specifically notes that anything else of reference, such as photos, letters, proof of international phone calls etc. are welcome.)

SECTION 2.2 is for those who were introduced by someone. It asks for the introducer’s name, nationality, birth date, address, phone number, alien registration number, date of introduction, place, and style of meeting (photo, phone, date, email, something else?). It also asks you to fill out a box on how deep each of your relationships go with the introducer. Be detailed, it demands.

But wait, there’s more…

SECTION THREE gets into the linguistics of your relationship. It asks what language you speak together, what your native tongues are, how well you understand each other (with four possible boxes to check), and how the foreigner learned his or her Japanese (again, be specific–there are four lines provided).

And there are four more lines provided to explain what you do when you don’t understand each other linguistically. If you use an interpreter, you are to give the interpreter’s name, nationality, and address.

SECTION FOUR asks about your marriage from a legal standpoint:

If you married in Japan, who were your witnesses? (You need two to sign the Kekkon Todoke in Japan). Give their name, sex, address, and phone numbers.

SECTION FIVE asks about the fanfare. If you held a wedding ceremony or a party (doesn’t indicate where–I guess that includes overseas bashes too), give the date and address. How many people attended–give a number. Who came? Choose from the appropriate seven types of family members: Father, mother, older brother, older sister…

SECTION SIX asks for your wedding histories. Is this your first marriage or a remarriage? If a remarriage, from when until when? Give dates. Two check boxes are provided to distinguish between dissolution through death or through divorce.

SECTION SEVEN asks how many times your foreign client, sorry, spouse, traveled to Japan and for how long. Give dates and reasons. SECTION EIGHT asks how many times you Japanese spouse went to the foreigner’s home country. Same data, please, except there are two specific sections devoted to how many times you’ve crossed the border since you met, then how many times since you married.

SECTIONS NINE and TEN the only sections I can see as really germane–if you’ve ever been expelled from Japan for a visa violation or some such. Give full details.

But we’re not done yet. SECTION ELEVEN wants you to fill out your entire family tree, with names, ages, addresses, and phone numbers in both Japan and the foreigner’s country. A separate chart is provided for the happy international couple to give the names, birth dates, and addresses of their children. Create for us an entire Koseki listing.

Finally, SECTION TWELVE asks who in both your families knew about your marriage. Again, circle the appropriate types of family members.

Sign and date. And we’ll reiterate the FBI warning just at the very bottom again just in case you would even think of lying.


So much for the sanctity of the privacy of marriage. I think I’ll stop by Immigration and ask a few questions why they need this kind of information. After all–what matters what language they speak at home?

It goes beyond remembering the color of your spouse’s toothbrush… into voyeurism. I’m sure any Japanese couple would balk at having to reveal this much intimate detail, so why is it being demanded from international couples in Japan?

Because it can be, of course. We’re Immigration, so sod you. After all, we can take away any foreigner’s rights at will…

Again, see for yourself at

Too bad for all those long-suffering spouses who now have to provide the government with a pipeline into their private life just because they had the ill judgment to marry a foreigner. I smell an article here.


10 comments on “MOJ Immigration Bureau violates privacy of marriage with new visa “shitsumon sho”

  • (Groan.) And here I thought I was saving myself some trouble by waiting until my current visa was nealy up to apply for a spousal visa. (I got married in July.) My wife is even less thrilled with the inappropriate questions than I am. Didn’t the MOJ bureaucrats have mothers to teach them why such questions are impolite at best?
    Keep fighting the good fight, Debito.

  • From another person who experienced this procedure:

    I’m not sure this is new at all. I had to provide more or less exactly the same information to get my first spouse visa in 1998 (also in Tokyo). The form looked slightly different, but the items were pretty much the same.

    The main difference I can remember is that it was also demanded that we provide a sketch of where our flat was.

    I remember that we filled in most of the things though as short as possible. Instead of sketching a map, I simply photocopied one. And sent in no photos though they were required.

    They then called up one day, and caught my wife on the phone and asked for the photos. She said we refuse to provide them since we saw this as a violation of privacy. They said fine and sent the invitation to collect the visa within a week of the call…

    Which leads me to recommend to anyone to fill in and provide only what they feel comfortable with and keep protesting about the rest.

  • I was going to say you are complaining too much. My wife and I had to fill in a whole bunch of stuff when were completing her British Visa (Spouse Entry). I mean, we had to say where we met, how long we’ve know each other.
    BUT…. then I kept reading all the other sections in the Japanese one. Section 3, 5, 7 and 8 are just stupid!!!

  • From a friend in the legal community:

    Came across this scholarly definition of privacy rights in Japan:


    “The acquisition and holding of personal information by a public authority via apropriate methods is not a violation of privacy rights. However, if the use of that information affects an individual’s existence and moral autonomy, issues regarding violations of privacy rights can arise.”

  • I actually just sent a longish email at your ‘debito’ mail address today about something related to the 質問書 I’ve discovered – the 理由書. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read my email and maybe won’t get a chance, I’ll encapsulate it here.

    I’m going for a spousal visa and I’ve been told by some gyouseishoshi that Immigration requires this ‘statement of purpose’. I haven’t as of yet found if it replaces the 質問書, if it’s another docment to go with the shitsumonsho, or if it’s actually the same thing gussied up with a different name. But the effect is the same – intrusive questions for the purpose of ‘revealing'(?) answers. Is anyone out there familiar with this 理由書? Is it just the same thing with a different name? What gives? I would welcome comments on this.

  • My friend told me of that new procedure,I didn’t believed her,but after reading Debito’s site,I’ll call my friend and tell her I’m sorry for not believing her.I’m staying here in Japan for almost 16 yrs.I married my first husband 10 yrs ago,got 3yrs. visa before divorcing.I started from A again,receiving 1yr. visa,my children acted as my sponsors.After a year,I remarried again,and till now for almost 4yrs of marriage,I’m still receiving 1yr visa.I can’t see the reason “why.”I’m always preparing for all the requirements for the FBI-liked proceedings but still no luck.Thanks Debito for your informations…CIAO!


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