Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter


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Hi Blog.  Continuing in the eye-blinkingly ludicrous trend of issuing government residency documents to things that can’t actually reside anywhere, we have the fifth in the series, behind Tama-Chan the sealion in Yokohama (2003), Tetsuwan Atomu in Niiza (2003),  Crayon Shin-chan in Kusakabe (2004), and Lucky Star in Washinomiya (2008), of a juuminhyou Residency Certificate now being granted to a photogenic sea otter in Kushiro, Hokkaido.  

Juuminhyou been impossible to issue, despite decades of protest, to taxpaying foreign residents because “they aren’t Japanese citizens” (and because they aren’t listed on the juumin kihon daichou, NJ aren’t even counted within many local government population tallies!).  Oh, well, seafaring mammals and anime characters aren’t citizens either, but they can be “special residents” and bring in merchandising yen.  Why I otter…!

We now have GOJ proposals to put NJ on juuminhyou at long last.  But not before time (we’re looking at 2012 before this happens), and after far too much of this spoon-biting idiocy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Kushiro gives sea otter special residency status
Thursday 30th April, 07:15 AM JST  Courtesy of Mark M-T and MJ


KUSHIRO — The city of Kushiro in Hokkaido has awarded special residency status to a sea otter which began appearing in the Kushiro River in February. The award ceremony for the sea otter, named Ku-chan, was held Wednesday at the riverbank near Nusamai Bruidge, where the sea otter has often been spotted.

Ku-chan appeared during a ceremony speech being delivered by Mayor Hiroya Ebina. The residency card bears the sea otter’s name, favorite food and ID photo. Copies of the card will be distributed free of charge at kiosks and a shopping complex near the bridge. 



Popular sea otter receives special residency status

A special residency card awarded to a sea otter that frequents Kushiro River in Hokkaido. (Mainichi)
A special residency card awarded to a sea otter that frequents Kushiro River in Hokkaido. (Mainichi)

KUSHIRO, Hokkaido — A wild sea otter has become a special resident here, after making a contribution to the city by attracting many tourists.

The otter, dubbed “Ku-chan,” began appearing in Kushiro River in February and was awarded special residency status from the city of Kushiro in Hokkaido last week.

The economic benefit to the local area generated by the sea otter, which has been attracting visitors even from outside of the country, is said to reach about 50 million yen per month.

“It seems like he has the will to receive it,” said Kushiro mayor Hiroya Ebina, commenting on the otter’s appearance immediately after the award ceremony, held at a square near the foot of Nusamai Bridge.

Copies of Ku-chan’s residency card are provided free as souvenirs upon request.

(Mainichi Japan) May 3, 2009

ラッコ:晴れて新住民、クーちゃん 北海道・釧路







12 comments on “Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter

  • There would be an accurate political cartoon of this in some newspaper if it wasn’t easy to lampoon.
    So now NJ (non-Japanese) are lower in status than a sea otter?!
    Due to its economic impact on the region?

    “The economic benefit to the local area generated by the sea otter, which has been attracting visitors even from outside of the country, is said to reach about 50 million yen per month.”

    And there you have it.

    Why am I even bothering with this country?

    — Somebody really otter complain. (sorry, can’t resist). If Kushiro wasn’t one of the more remote cities in Japan, I’d suggest we dress up like sea otters and

  • They gave one to Shin-chan?? That kid is a little brat, just ask his teachers and long-suffering parents. At least the otter is cute…

    — It’s economics uber alles. After all, Crayon Shin-Chan is one of the anime shows even I find entertaining enough to watch. Mirebua?

  • I think I’ll list this otter as my guarantor on a loan application.

    — Then you can claim that you gotter by an otter who botter after you sotter.

    (This can go on all night.)

  • Asterisk says:


    I just want to point out part of the game:

    the sea otter (ashika in Nihongo) does not WANT to be listed in the residency role.

    If the sea otter wanted the residency, then it would be an entirely different story. And the otter would be subjected to a series of delightful games for the enjoyment of the Nihon-jin.

    But the otter could care less about the residency status.

    Probably doesn’t want to pay jyuuminzei (residents tax) either.

    You notice how whales are mammals, but they never get named and invited in with a residency card. In fact, if the rest of the world’s back is turned, they get harped and eaten. So it isn’t even a mammal thing.

    If someone had told Commodore Perry the key was to dress up as a sea otter, it would have saved a lot of bluster and the second trip.

    And lastly, it’s time to update that Japanese tongue twister:

    kamoshika mo shika mo shika da ga, tashika ashika wa shika de wa nai. (Jyuumin desu.)

    — I’m beginning to think more animals should become juumin just so we can really get silly while we criticize.

  • I imagine they’re being pro-active here, as the publicity for fining Ku-chan every time it’s caught without that new gaijin card would be terrible…

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    It’s important to remember that the average Japanese person doesn’t know that non-nationals are denied admission into the juuminhyou system. Several times I’ve been asked by my company’s personnel department or someone similar for a copy of “my juuminhyou”, which of course doesn not exist. (Real estate agents and bank officials, amont others, seem to be aware, though.)

    I suspect that the people who come up with the ideas to honor these animals and fictional characters are not thinking about how a side effect of their publicity stunt is to put non-national human beings lower than non-humans on this scale.

    Are there many Japanese people who actually support the denial of juuminhyou for non-nationals? I get the impression that there’s a small but significant percentage of the population who think the current system is ridiculous and unwieldy, if not discriminatory, and then there’s the vast majority who are uninformed or indifferent.

    The sad thing is that this should be a fun thing to do. It should be a humorous way for people to show their affection for animals who have taken up residency with them. But they can’t do this without insulting others, because they can’t defy the national government when it comes to defining “residents”. If more municipalities would follow the lead of Nishi-ku in Yokohama, which passed an official opinion regarding non-nationals and juuminhyou, maybe we’d finally see the abolishment of the ridiculous alien cards and a full integration of all residents into the official registers.

  • At first glance, yeah animals getting certificates, funny. But if those people in charge gave it more thought – only a couple more seconds required – they’d see how offensive it is to NJ considering the difficulties for actual humans to get the same permission. Why this document? There are hundreds of options – the Honorary Mayor, Special Assistant to the City, Official Tourism Ambassador – and so on.
    If a petition about this is circulated, I will sign it and publicize it.
    (Hey, here’s an idea, lets create a long list of honorary titles, and post it. Then, as soon as another cute-animal-in-a-river story is “breaking news”, we flood that local government’s office with emails and the list.)

    — Both sound like fine ideas. If anyone does this, please let this list know.

  • I think that foreigners should get together and give a gaijin card to some cartoon character. The Japanese-est one we can find.

    “Well, we would have given him a juuminhyou, but we’re foreigners, we can’t do that.”

  • Drew,

    Good idea. I suggest Son Gokuu (孫悟空), well known by nearly all Japanese. Two plausible arguments: 1) he is from the planet Bejiita (ベジータ) or 2) from China (『西遊記』). In either case, he is not Japanese. Then he has “half” children with a Japanese mother, too. I wonder if they will be forced to choose a nationality someday.


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