Sendaiben on MOJ interview for his naturalization, went badly: GOJ now requires applicants become STATELESS?


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Hi Blog.  Here is a report from Sendaiben about his experiences going through the rigmarole (found in every country) for naturalization.  His most recent experience, however, was for him very negative and even off-putting, ultimately being told that he would have to render himself STATELESS in order to obtain Japanese citizenship.

Quite a different experience from what I went through more than a decade ago.  And this is the country that encourages people to naturalize if they want rights?  What a crock.  Arudou Debito

From: Sendaiben
Subject: Sendai Houmukyoku Interview
July 15, 2011

A couple of people asked me to write up my recent (well, relatively recent, given that it happened just before the earthquake) experience of talking to the Houmukyoku (Ministry of Justice office) in Sendai about naturalizing as a Japanese citizen.

I have talked to them before on a couple of occasions (most recently in 2008 or so) where they explained the procedure and the necessary paperwork, then asked me to come back when it was all done. The people I spoke to in the past were relatively friendly and encouraging, and treated me in a professional and courteous manner. I came out of the interviews fairly enthusiastic about naturalizing.

Fast forward two and a half years, when I finally had all the paperwork together. Gathering all the required pieces of paper was extremely time-consuming in my case, for a few reasons:

1. the UK has a fairly decentralized record keeping system
2. my parents both died over twenty years ago, so I was not able to get certain dates and other information from them
3. I was born outside the UK

It took several weeks of effort over a period of a couple of years to get hold of the various birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates that I needed for my immediate family (parents and brother). I understand I will also need the full range of Japanese documents (koseki touhons, ARC printouts, tax certificates, etc.), but this will be relatively simple to do here in Sendai and as these documents expire within a few months of issue I haven’t bothered to get them yet.

I called the Houmukyoku in February and arranged to go in for an interview in early March (the Sendai office tends to take two or three weeks to make an appointment).

I had a new case officer, a youngish guy in his mid-30s. He was brusque to the point of rudeness throughout our interactions, neglecting to use polite Japanese and ignoring me for extended periods several times. Not in the slightest bit friendly or encouraging, our interview went more or less as follows:

1. I explained that I had been in before, and that I was coming in again to confirm my understanding of the process. I presented all the documents I had.
2. The officer admitted everything was in order, then asked me to fill in some forms (including a statement of intent). My handwritten Japanese in terms of kanji recall is very poor, as I do all my writing on computers and phones. Because of this, I looked up several kanji on my phone while writing.
3. The officer seized upon this as a reason why I would not be eligible to naturalize, and suggested I “go away and learn Japanese”. I should explain that I have passed the JLPT 1 and kanji kentei 7, both of which should have served as proof that my Japanese is good enough for naturalization purposes. My case officer disagreed 🙂
4. He went on to explain how the system had changed from the last time I had it explained to me. For UK nationals, towards the end of the application process, there is a requirement that they formally renounce their UK citizenship, and obtain written proof of this from the UK government. At this point they become stateless, and are given special permission to remain in Japan until the naturalization process is complete. If the application is successful, they then receive Japanese citizenship. If unsuccessful, the UK will return citizenship upon request once.
5. I gathered my notes, thanked him, and left.

I was actually very discouraged by this. Now, I am fairly sure that if I went ahead and applied, I would probably be successful. I have a good job, a Japanese family, I have been living here for eleven years, and am fairly well-integrated into society. I like Sendai, and plan to live here for a while, if not for good. However, I don’t need to naturalize, and probably won’t bother for at least another couple of years (when I will probably call up the Sendai Houmukyoku and hope that I get a more pleasant case officer).

I am a bit disappointed though. I would have thought Japan would be encouraging people to naturalize, rather than doing everything possible to discourage them.

Hong Kong or maybe Singapore are starting to look more attractive. We’ll see how it goes.



40 comments on “Sendaiben on MOJ interview for his naturalization, went badly: GOJ now requires applicants become STATELESS?

  • Bitter Valley says:

    If I was less cynical, I would say you were unlucky in drawing an asshole of a case officer. These petty little bureaucrats are everywhere in Japan and it seems to be pot luck if you get a nice/ ordinary/ or asshole administrator.

    May I ask if the administrator was younger than you or the same age? If so, his behavior was exceptionally rude and I’d have been pretty angry too.

    I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with these petty bureaucrats in Shibuya, although for every bad one there has been a decent one who has treated me normally and like an adult (no baby Japanese, no Engrish) despite the fact that I am a “worthless gaijin,” etc. Just as I think of myself as a middle-aged professional entitled some basic courtesy, I get some petty administrator gaijinizing me. There always seems to be a sort of default with people that no matter what you have achieved or who you might be, to the bureaucrat you are a gaijin first, second and third.

    But you would think this moron would actually have some common sense. Someone in Tohoku who is intelligent and educated is interested in investing his life in this country when it desperately needs people? What a joke!

  • That’s a requirement for certain nationalities that they can get away with doing it to, to make sure they renounce their other citizenship. Obviously they don’t require this for nationals who legally cannot become stateless (such as Americans). More here:

    And here’s an account from a British citizen who naturalized and had to do the same thing:

    It seems that the foreign countries involved are okay with it. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this discouraging though. Well, the lack of dual citizenship is discouraging, but I don’t think the way they enforce it is all that relevant.

    To Sendaiben, best of luck for the next time you feel up to it!

  • Well now is it JLPT 1 or JLPT N1? The first means nothing, the second next to nothing. You have to take into account that Japanese language education both inside and outside Japan is premissed on what has been called the bigotry of low expectations and that the highest JLPT levels are equivalent to survival Japanese, no matter what Japan Foundation apparatchiks might claim. Kanji Kentei 7 qualification also isn’t something I would brag about. Maybe use the next couple of years to study for jun2 or 2 in your free time?

    I should point out though that while I may sound harsh I’m not saying your Japanese is “bad”, I’m in no position to judge that. But invoking the JLPT as a measure of your ability may point to you judging yourself by a different standard than the one your case officer uses. My own experiences that the self-confidence to ability ratio among my Anglosphere friends in Japan is much higher than that of my Chinese and Korean friends.

  • I always thought that international conventions strongly discourage member countries from creating stateless people. I find it quite risky (for legal reasons, insurance, etc…) to become stateless even for a short amount of time. Even though I am strongly advocating multi-citizenship (which correspond much more to our multipolar, complex modern world), in that case I would suggest that a written statement certifying you will renounce your former citizenship once you get a formal approval should be enough.

    Concerning the behavior of the bureaucrat, I hope you wrote his name so you could send a complain about him.

    HK and Singapore are indeed much more immigration-friendly but Singapore is not yet a democracy and nobody knows what will happen to HK after 2047 (which admittedly leaves a lot of time).

  • To require that people become stateless is to imperil their safety.

    These immigrants generally have family outside Japan.

    As stateless people, should they need to travel to visit these relatives, their ability to travel, and their safety, is potentially seriously at risk.

    A stateless British person transecting Russia, for example, and having to stay over there due to some unforeseen reason, could find himself very badly treated, and with no one to appeal.

    Requiring the renunciation of all citizenship is to endanger the human rights of these stateless individuals.

    Depressing that Japan, a country that endlessly prates about how it was a victim of World War 2, seeks to victimise others.

  • This is ridiculous. Not least because my understanding is that you cannot renounce your British citizenship (well you can, but you won’t lose your British citizenship) unless you are in possession of another citizenship at the time of renunciation. Does this requirement apply to all countries?

  • The official advice can be found at:

    I have copied and pasted the relevant sections. It is clear that you cannot give up your British citizenship unless you present as evidence at the same time either a new passport or a document confirming that you will get a new citizenship automatically on renouncing your British citizenship. (not an intention or hope to get a new citizenship.) This should mean that without this evidence they will not allow you to renounce your old citizenship.
    (Also I think the ability to resume British citizenship only applies where you took another citizenship afterwards and if renunciation was done to gain that citizenship, you are not limited to one chance to resume British citizenship.)

    It surely cannot be right (and I doubt it is legally) that you have to get permission from your old country to renounce your previous citizenship. Just think of the potential problems, Japan should stand on its own feet on an issue such as this and not be at the mercy of foreign governments and foreign bureaucracy.

    Can I give up my citizenship?

    If you are a British citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British overseas citizen, a British subject or a British national (overseas), you may give up your citizenship or status if you:

    already have another citizenship or nationality; or
    are going to get another citizenship or nationality after you have given up your British citizenship, British overseas territories citizenship, British overseas citizenship, British subject status or British national (overseas) status.

    In addition to this, you must also be:

    aged 18 or over (but if you are under 18 and have been married, we will treat you as meeting the age requirement); and
    of sound mind (but if you are not of sound mind, you may still be allowed to give up your British citizenship or other British nationality if it would be in your best interests).

    What to send with your form to give up British citizenship or status

    Evidence of your future status

    You should send us evidence that either:

    you have another citizenship or nationality, or will have one when you have made your declaration to give up your British status. This may be a passport issued to you by the other country of which you are a national, or a statement by the authorities of that country that you are one of its nationals; or
    you are about to become a citizen of another country. This should be a letter from the authorities of the country concerned confirming that you will be granted citizenship of that country when you have given up your British citizenship or status.

  • According to the French consulate, you cannot loose your French citizenship even if you renounce it (and especially if it would render you stateless). I don’t believe the Japanese government would officially require this. Is there a chance it was a personal interpretation of the bureaucrat?

  • Here we go, this section explains what happens if you fail to get a new citizenship within 6 months. (of course this contradicts what was said elsewhere on the official British government site)

    If you do not gain citizenship of another country

    If we registered your declaration because you expected to gain another citizenship, but you do not do this within six months of the registration, the registration will not take effect.

    In this case, you should send us your copy of the application form, together with a letter from the authorities of the other country confirming that you have not gained that country’s citizenship.

    We will make a note on your application form to show that you have not given up your British citizenship or status because the registration did not take effect.

  • Just for completeness, here is the actual letter of the law from the British Nationality Act 1981 (Part I section 12):

    12. Renunciation.

    (1)If any British citizen of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration of renunciation of British citizenship, then, subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Secretary of State shall cause the declaration to be registered.
    (2)On the registration of a declaration made in pursuance of this section the person who made it shall cease to be a British citizen.
    (3)A declaration made by a person in pursuance of this section shall not be registered unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person who made it will after the registration have or acquire some citizenship or nationality other than British citizenship; and if that person does not have any such citizenship or nationality on the date of registration and does not acquire some such citizenship or nationality within six months from that date, he shall be, and be deemed to have remained, a British citizen notwithstanding the registration.
    (4)The Secretary of State may withhold registration of any declaration made in pursuance of this section if it is made during any war in which Her Majesty may be engaged in right of Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom.
    (5)For the purposes of this section any person who has been married [F1, or has formed a civil partnership,] shall be deemed to be of full age.

  • People with Japanese passpports living in Canada with Canadian passports ? Secretly, yes.
    The Canadian application didn’t require a formal renouncement. Staying low on the radar offers these people their freedom to live, do business and pay taxes in both places. They’re honest people living in stealth.

  • why do you have to become stateless just so you can prove to the j-govt that you are at there mercy? this looks like a violation of human rights. and i just spoke to a human rights lawyer and he told me that its illegal under international protocol because it has to be under different circumstances for a person to become stateless such as civil war the next time a j-govt clone asked you to do such a thing i would report this as a violation of your human rights

  • The case worker’s antics sound pretty reprehensible.

    That said, everyone above is missing the point with regard to the rules. It is explained very well here (and Sendaiben saw it back in March):

    The UK lets its subjects renounce nationality and become stateless for the purpose of naturalizing elsewhere, with the provision that they get their UK nationality back immediately if the naturalization process falls through. This is why Japan makes Britons renounce before they can take Japanese nationality.

    Americans don’t have the benefit of such a procedure under US law, so they are allowed to complete naturalization in Japan first, and then renounce their US nationality.

    There are some countries (like South Korea, I believe) where you are automatically expatriated under that country’s law if you take nationality elsewhere, so this issue doesn’t come up at all.

    I think the Japanese justice ministry should be commended for taking the trouble to harmonize its rules with the rules of every other country on the planet…

    Finally, to address Sendaiben’s last comment above, neither China nor Singapore allows dual nationality. They both have straightforward permanent residency systems, but why bother to get PR there when you already have it in Japan?

  • Did the bureaucrat cite any identifiable rules/policies that make becoming stateless part of the process? That would be interesting to know about.

  • Just a quick reply to Bart, While you may not mean to be “harsh,” your thoughts would carry more weight with me if your own message didn’t include one misspelled word and one grammar/spelling error. I assume English is your first language…. I hope that some country’s requirement for perfect English writing skills does not at some point affect your citizenship.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Boy, it seems like the Japanese immigration bureau is getting nutty as a fruitcake. Sending an undisciplined immigration officer who gives an applicant wrong instructions– with an inappropriate manner–is a clear indication that they are undermining their integrity and professionalism. I’ve never heard such a word like “stateless.” It’s NOT even in the glossary list of the US Customs and Immigration Service.

  • Yep, Chris is dead right. The UK government won’t let anyone renounce their citizenship without a new nationality ready and waiting to replace it. So perhaps this is a subtle Japanese way of saying “No Brits need apply.”?

  • “Finally, to address Sendaiben’s last comment above, neither China nor Singapore allows dual nationality. They both have straightforward permanent residency systems, but why bother to get PR there when you already have it in Japan?”

    Singapore is a much more multicultural society, and becoming a citizen there is actually promoted. PR or Singaporean is the same thing when it comes to employment. There is no such thing in Japan. A gaijin is a gaijin whether a citizen, PR or spouse of JN. Singaporeans have recently complained that there are too many foriegners there, but I think they know immigration is what drives their success. I have never bothered with PR in Japan, because I dont feel accepted here. When I walk into a 7 11, Im a gaijin. When I walk into Johathans, Im a gaijin. On the train, lets stare at the gaijin. In singapore, or even the UK or USA, because we have so much nationality in the mix, you dont know who is a citizen or who isnt. Here its not that way.

  • Some countries provide a mechanism that allows their nationals to provisionally renounce their nationality while they are applying for a new nationality. I.e. if their application for new nationality doesn’t succeed, they can get their old nationality back. It would appear that the Japanese authorities are taking advantage of this mechanism when it’s available.

    The mechanism is described in the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness:


    Article 7

    1. (a) If the law of a Contracting State permits renunciation of nationality, such renunciation shall
    not result in loss of nationality unless the person concerned possesses or acquires another nationality.

    2. A national of a Contracting State who seeks naturalization in a foreign country shall not lose his
    nationality unless he acquires or has been accorded assurance of acquiring the nationality of that foreign


    It kind of sucks that a mechanism designed to *reduce* statelessness is being used in this way.

    Here are the signatories to the convention:

    Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kiribati, Korea (Republic of), Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (The Former Yugoslav Republic of), Malawi, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


    • Hi Pitarou-san,

      I have the same feeling and thought with you that;

      >Japanese authorities are taking advantage of this mechanism when it’s available.

      >It kind of sucks that a mechanism designed to *reduce* statelessness is being used in this way.

      According to Act of citizenship there is no requirement that one must become stateless for the process, actually. Wonder those signatories countres know that Japan regards applicants as STATELESS status after providing the provisionally renouncement and once one has obtained Japanese citizenship, it appears in Koseki (Japanese family registration) that one used to be MUKOKUSEKI (stateless).

  • One thing is a little bit weird on this story.
    ” … JLPT 1 and kanji kentei 7, both of which should have served as proof that my Japanese is good enough…”.

    I agree that JLPT 1 proofs that your (passive) language skill reach the upper levels, but Kentei 7 includes only the level a 4th grader has. No wonder that you don’t impress the person in charge …

    — You only need a third-grader J-level to pass requirements for citizenship. At least when I went through. The dickhead in charge was shifting the goalposts at whim.

  • Wow, this is quite the lively thread! Thanks for all the comments.

    My intention writing this was to provide an account of how my experience went down. I didn’t appreciate how the MOJ official handled things (like I said, I’ve had much better experiences in the past), but I don’t think he did anything ‘wrong’ or worth complaining about. I am not at all shy about complaining when warranted, but I don’t really think I have much to complain about here.

    I only mentioned my Japanese ‘paper’ qualifications to show that I should be okay on paper meeting the GOJ’s standard of ES level Japanese. My spoken Japanese is much better than my reading and writing.

    Singapore (and Hong Kong) are examples of countries that seem similar to Japan while being in effect much more welcoming. What really brought it home to me was the announcement made on Singapore Airlines when landing in Changi airport: “to all Singaporeans and permanent residents: welcome home”. Sadly I can’t imagine that announcement being made in Japan 😉

    I’ll definitely be here at least four more years. After that, it depends on employment and environmental factors. I may even drop by the Sendai houmukyoku again!

  • This has probably come about because some countries (e.g. the UK) recognize dual citizenship, but Japanese law doesn’t. The advice given to me when I investigated naturalization was, don’t give up your British passport, and just tell the Japanese that you did. Apparently this used to work.

    I’m not making excuses for the behavior of the officer, or the process itself. Just trying to shed some light on why things may have changed.

  • “You only need a third-grader J-level to pass requirements for citizenship.” I was not aware that any language ability was needed – A South American friend who just obtained her Japanese citizenship speaks woeful Japanese and has next to zero reading and writing ability. She does have a Japanese husband and daughter though…

    — I have written extensively about my experiences. Please read the link I provided earlier. You can also read a more updated version at an outside site here.

  • Debito:

    The point that you make “The dickhead in charge was shifting the goalposts at whim” is key.

    Until the Japanese government creates processes that are transparent, and evenly enforced, then naturalisation, like everything else, will ultimately be viewed as the caprice of some bureaucrat.

    Indeed, [and on a separate topic] the future problems with remediation of the Fukushima disaster will, I predict, untimately also stem from opaque governmental standards, capriciously enforced.

    In other words, the problems of lack of transparency and unequal application of the law are systemic.

    They have the effect of having the government behave not as a modern democracy, but more like a pre-modern state.

  • Piglet: Singapore is so a democracy. It’s just a bit of a quirky democracy.

    I would expect it becomes less foreign-friendly in the future than it has been, because the anti-foreigner sentiment is growing and the government are having to respond to that: they’ve already started making it harder to get permanent residence and to progress to citizenship, and to create more of a distinction between PRs and citizens in terms of benefits, such as availability of schooling. I doubt we’ll ever sink to Japanese levels, though.

    — Let’s not get into too much of a digression about Singapore. Bring it back to Japan, as you have done, thanks.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Charuzu in post #4 has already made most of the points I wanted to make.

    I can only add that becoming momentarily stateless makes the applicant totally dependent on the safe processing of his documents by the MoJ, and if anything were to happen to them, the applicant could find himself stateless for a very long time, and unable to either (1) verify his legal residency status in Japan or (2) travel abroad in any way.

    Bureaucrats in Sendai, of all places, should be aware of this — how many paper koseki records were lost without trace in the recent earthquake and tsunami? How many evacuees lost their passports and alien papers? Now imagine that some of those irretrievably lost papers belong to people who have given up their original nationalities in hopes of acquiring that of Japan.

    This would be a disaster at the personal level, and could be immensely mitigated by having a system that ensures that no one is ever stateless even for a moment. The MoJ is indeed being contemptuous of human rights when they demand that applicants leave the protection of their home countries behind and take a flying leap forward while trusting Japan’s bureaucracy.

  • If anything happens to you while you are stateless (accident, earthquake, death in your family, robbery, etc…), you might get into trouble because you wouldn’t have any legal status so to say. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to become voluntarily stateless for any reason and for any amount of time.

  • @sendaiben,

    May I ask, what is your motivation to naturalize in Japan? Is it that good for you here? Not to dis you, if its great for you. It just seems the longer I stay here, the more unwelcome, especially when it comes to employment, I am. I could see business perhaps, but even that is tough. Thanks for any answer.

  • I’m currently naturalizing, but I wouldn’t dare try to do it without a legal scrivener/gyouseishoshi (immigration lawyer). These folks know exactly what to say to the bureaucrats, and have clients perform the process of naturalizing many many times. The immigration lawyer I am using costs around 2000$ (1000$ upfront, 1000$ after submission), and will fully refund if the naturalization is successful.

    It’s said that u get that crappy service from the bureaucrats, and the system of paying scriveners is essentially an outsourcing of the explanation and a way of front-loading/fast-tracking paperwork. Knowing the system, and that I’m only naturalizing once, I’ve opted for professional help.

    — What does your scrivener say about the GOJ apparently requiring candidates to become Stateless?

  • Hi Scuzzy

    Basically I’ve been here for eleven years, have a family, a business, and a good job. I like it here and given that I am probably going to be here a while longer, I thought I might as well naturalize. No rush though, and no pressing need 🙂

  • My explanation session to initiate the naturalization process
    was just short of nightmarish. The officer spoke very quickly
    and then with apparent disdain when he surmised my speaking/
    listening ability. After thirty years here it is serviceable:
    my girlfriend doesn’t speak English nor do other Japanese friends; I teach using Japanese (mea culpa) to my academically challenged students, etc. That was two years ago. Obtaining the paperwork from family was very time consuming but I have most of it. The experience has been so depressing I have put off trying to complete it. I would like to learn the name of the legal help that Scott (above) has contracted. Or information from anyone else who has found competent legal assistance to navigate these difficult waters. Thank you.

  • Just a correction.

    China does not offer any kind of Permanent resident status, if you ignore the 30 or 50 executives of companies than have over 50M investment in China that are elligible to a 10 year “green card”, other foreigners, wether married to a local or not, can’t get any visas valid over 2 years.

    You might consider Hong Kong or Macau as China, which offers PR after 7 years, but this does not give you the right to even travel to Mainland China, as you still need to apply for a China visa.

    Taiwan, on the other hand (if you consider it as the real China) does offer PR (as long as you stay 185 days within the country every year).

    In the case of Taiwan, the naturalization process is even more funny, you have to become stateless, and if your application is acepted you will be given a “resident”status for up to 5 years (not citizenship), you will have to remain in Taiwan for a full year (as a stateless resident) to be eligible to gain citizenship. If you leave the country with a “laisser paser”during the first year, you will have to wait a couple of years more before becoming a citizen of Taiwan, efectivelly making you stateless for 2,3 or more years.

    After all, Japan is not that bad then 🙂

    — How awful. I understand countries wanting to test the degree of commitment to an adopted society in their candidates, but requiring them to be Stateless should be rendered unlawful under international law. Everyone has the right to one nationality. Forcing them to give it up and put themselves at great risk during unforeseen life events is just heartless and cruel ijime.

  • Just to reiterate what’s been said several times above concerning becoming stateless as a condition, this ONLY applies to candidates from countries that have a provisional renunciation system in place. The UK has such a system, so I was required to renounce (and prove it) before they’d send the papers off for approval. This was back in 2005. Naturally I voiced my concerns to the officer in charge (who was very reasonable and professional) and he explained that the UK was one of many countries with such a system, and that the renunciation is conditional on the candidate receiving a new nationality within 6 months. So the renunciation process is more like a escrow system, and technically wouldn’t come into effect until after the application is approved. At no point would you be stateless in any more than a purely anecdotal sense.

  • “At no point would you be stateless in any more than a purely anecdotal sense.” OK this makes more sense…

    I am really looking forward to seeing the day when Japan accepts multiple citizenships. The idea that you have to swear “loyalty” to one country (and only one!) is so… archaic. But that’s another debate.

  • Sendaiben: “Singapore (and Hong Kong) are examples of countries that seem similar to Japan while being in effect much more welcoming.”

    Hong Kong is not a country. You can’t naturalize there unless you want to become a citizen of China (Yes it happens, though rare. Google Mike Rowse). You can be a permanent resident after seven years, which is great as far as it goes. Hong Kong people, particularly ethnic Chinese, are a mishmash of nationalities, from various classes of citizenship conferred by the UK – for most, this means they are very much not full British citizens, and never will be – to citizens of China, and then of course to those who went out and procured citizenship of other countries once it was established (1984) that Hong Kong was going back to China.

    If Hong Kong is your bag, by all means go for it, but do find out a little more about it before you go jumping to conclusions. And if you’re considering living there, don’t make the mistake of assuming you can just swap a large country like Japan for a tiny enclave like Hong Kong without noticing some major differences – housing, personal transportation (if you get my drift), travel, culture, shopping, pastimes, etc.

    And in some ways, yes Hong Kong is wonderful, cosmopolitan, and multicultural. In others, it is exceptionally monocultural. Not Chinese. Cantonese.

  • “Singapore is a much more multicultural society, and becoming a citizen there is actually promoted.”

    Not if you’re a maid. Have a look some time at the government-set rules that apply to them. Seriously, take a look.

    And for the citizens/residents of Singapore, there are plenty of websites dealing with “maid problems”. You will quickly notice from reading a few that in “cosmopolitan” Singapore, not all foreigners are alike. The following is a far from isolated example of the kind of attitude people have to their maids. Ask yourself, would _you_ like to be viewed as some kind of moronic half-human that can’t decide their own relationships? By your employer?

    Singapore isn’t better than Japan, it just has a different set of ugly attitudes. The same goes for Hong Kong.

  • “Singapore isn’t better than Japan, it just has a different set of ugly attitudes…”

    I don’t know Singapore, but isn’t that ugly attitude you are pointing to coming from an expat in Singapore? So is it the immigrants that are the problem, then..?

  • Ril: “I don’t know Singapore, but isn’t that ugly attitude you are pointing to coming from an expat in Singapore? So is it the immigrants that are the problem, then..?”

    The link I put up is consistent with my comment: “for the citizens/residents of Singapore…”. In other words, for the whole of the community that employs maids there. I will not be linkbombing this thread, so feel free to research this subject if you doubt my point. You’ll find discrimination from all the main ethnic Singaporean groups, and among expats.

    Maids in Singapore are without doubt accorded second class status, both socially and officially. To take a single example of the latter, they’re required to be tested for pregnancy every six months. Consider that for a moment…and whether it would be appropriate to do that to other people. Apart from the gross invasion of privacy (and let’s face it, human rights), it carries the consequence of dismissal and deportation.

    It’s hardly a minor issue, discrimination on this level, because maids are an essential part of Singapore society, they’re the reason a lot of households are able to have both parents working, and so in terms of numbers, discrimination is being applied to a huge group of people.

    I encourage you to have a look at some of the official – in other words, government mandated – employment rules for maids. Then you’ll know Singapore a little better, and you can decide if immigrants are the problem…

    — And now we’ll draw this tangent on Singapore to a close.


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