Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Just heard yesterday that Charles Jenkins, long-suffering veteran of North Korea (who got a very harsh life after defecting from the US military from South Korea, before I was even born!), just got his Permanent Residency (eiuuken) in record time (a coupla weeks).  And with fewer years spent here (four) than the average applicant (generally five years if married to a Japanese, ten if not married).  With personal consideration from Justice Minister Hatoyama.

Congratulations Mr Jenkins.  Seriously.  I’m very happy you can stay here with your family as long as you like, and may you have a peaceful and happy rest of your life out on Sadogashima.  

But I wish the often strict procedures given other applicants could have applied to him as well.  Again, as with the case of Fujimori (who was “naturalized” in about the same amount of procedural time) and certain sports figures, politics keeps infiltrating the application process for assimilation.  Inevitable, some might say, but still a shame when there are people as eminently qualified as Mr Jenkins also being refused.  More on that here from the Japan Times.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

7月11日12時36分配信 読売新聞
Courtesy of oogu






Jenkins granted permanent residency status
Courtesy of oogu

TOKYO —The Japanese government will grant U.S. citizen Charles Jenkins, the husband of a repatriated Japanese abductee to North Korea, permanent residency status, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday. Jenkins, a former U.S. Army sergeant who deserted to North Korea, married Hitomi Soga there and lived in the country almost 40 years, came to Japan with the couple’s two North Korean-born daughters in July 2004 after being reunited with Soga in Jakarta.

The Justice Ministry made the decision only half a month after Jenkins applied for the status June 24. Usually, foreign nationals need about six months to obtain permanent residency status. Jenkins, 68, has been living in his wife’s hometown on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan since completing a 30-day detention for desertion at a U.S. Army base in Japan. He acquired temporary residency status as Soga’s spouse and is required to renew it every three years. With permanent residency status, Jenkins will not be required to go through further renewals.

13 comments on “Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…

  • Heh, I came to Japan in May 2004 and I still can’t just switch jobs or whatever without getting the government’s permission. I guess that guy is special. Maybe I should have been a deserter too.

  • I understand frustrations of people who have a problem to get PR. I applied for my in March 2004, received November the same year.
    I`m married to Japanese Citizen. My spouse visa was as follows: 1-1-2.5(3) (in year fourth (1+1+2.5), last half year has been stamped with “CANCELED” because I got my PR). I applied in Tokyo. Good Luck to everyone who try now.

  • He was always going to be treated as a special case, but that was very fast indeed.

    Imagine the uproar had he been declined however.

    –Yes, quite. Maybe that’s why Hatoyama intervened…?

  • Since Jenkins was brought to Japan by Prime Minister Koizumi, (and married to Hitomi Soga) he was basically guaranteed PR status. The fact that it took this long is a surprise to me. He has been working in a cookie shop since his release from US military custody.

    I personally admire Jenkins. Anyone who could survive for 40 years in North Korea is someone to be admired. He had the right intentions to avoid Vietnam, but basically screwed up by surrendering to North Korean soldiers.

  • It seems that Japanese immigration is only trying to make a “statement” to North Korea…I guess that cuban refugees, in the past, would have been given similar treatment.

  • Jenkins was convicted of desertion, and served 30 days in confinement. Even with a record of a conviction and confinement, he got his PR. Yet, some people are denied PR for something as minor as a parking ticket. The PR system is arbitrary and flawed. Jenkins is a criminal, but he is welcomed to Japan by Hatoyama.

  • Quite an achievement – Jenkins has a criminal record in his native country for desertion. The record usually excludes you from entering Japan on visas other than tourist visa in the first place… And even the 40 years in that concentration camp called North Korea don’t erase that record (although it has definitely been punishment enough).
    Gov’t sources say approval of PR was swift, because his paperwork was in order.
    Say again??
    We common mortals have everything in order and still wait 6+ months to be approved.
    We’re all equal before the law, just some are more equal than others…

  • Oh, give me a break, people. The man had been in North Korea for decades. He even had a life-threatening illness at one point. He was brought to Japan with his wife and family at the behest of the Japanese government so they wouldn’t be split up indefinitely. Will you all please get over yourselves, ok? He obviously was a “special case” and you all weren’t. File your paperwork and get over it, huh?

  • Last time I went to renew my visa (2006), the guy at immigration told me to skip it & fill out the application for PR instead. Makes it hard for me to believe so many people have trouble getting it.

    Believe it. See Japan Times article on how arbitrary the PR application process can get at

  • Pizzamancer says:

    I had the same treatment as Angus. 1 year spouse visa, then 3 year. After my second 3 year visa was approved, they asked me to apply for PR. 5 Years is not necessary.

    The process took nowhere near 6 months. The only thing I can pin the troubles others have on is a lack of attention to detail in filling out paperwork.

  • sendaiben says:

    I had the standard experience, I think. Applied after being married for three years, it took about seven months to get the (positive) result. No major hassles, but no lucky breaks either.

  • I personally like Charles Jenkins, went through hell and back.


    He’s a convicted felon – I thought felons couldn’t get a visa, let alone a PR, what does he write on the back of his re-entry card?

  • I’m right smack in the middle of prepping my PR papers now — and there are plenty of them. Now I’m trying to figure out how to spin my essay — the search for which brought me to this page. Now that I’m here…

    Although I see the injustice of these special cases, they are usually showcases that bring quick and easy attention to Japan from abroad. This is good business. So I can let them slide.

    What I can’t easily let slide are the seemingly arbitrary rules and time frame for who gets the visa and when. This is my first time trying — but even though I’ve been here 17 years, I have a great job, my 一級, and I haven’t killed anybody yet, the fact that I’m not married with kids and I have 2 small traffic violations in my sordid past is making me wonder if it’s even worth applying. Not the mention the fact that when the lawyer guy (yes, I caved and went to an immigration lawyer) saw my passport stamps he shook his head and told me that more than anything, all the trips I take could torpedo my chances. As if Japanese people also don’t travel a lot. Well, I’ll roll the dice and see how she goes. If I get it, maybe I’ll post here and invite you all for beers in Chiba! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>