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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

LIFELINES

Seeking permanence; ignoring Easter


By ANGELA JEFFS and KEN JOSEPH JR.

Easter absence

Brenda and family wonder why Easter has been ignored by Japanese commercial interests.

"All those chocolate eggs and cards with bunnies! I would have thought Japan would have lapped up the possibilities for making money, as it has with Christmas and Valentine's Day."

Yes, this has struck us too, especially since the marking of Easter Sunday originated in pre-Christian rites celebrating the rebirth of spring.

We can only assume that crucifixion is too grim a theme, especially in the historical context of the many Japanese Christians who were executed in this manner from the 16th century onward.

If readers have other theories, we'd love to hear them. Chocolate overload after two sugar-based orgies? (Valentine's Day quickly followed by the culturally reciprocal White Day?) (A.J.)

Permanent residency

Shona is a Japanese citizen with a U.S. green card, married to a U.S. citizen. "He has never applied for Japanese residency before," she writes. "We have been married since January 2006."

Shona says we have mentioned before that if you are married to a Japanese citizen, it requires three years to become eligible for permanent residency. "But does it mean that we don't have to be living in Japan for three years as long as we have been married for that long?"

Permanent residency is granted very much on a case-by-case basis. In order to qualify, it used to be the case that you had to have lived in Japan for a minimum of 10 years. That period has now been reduced to five years.

If your spouse is a Japanese citizen, the waiting period is now generally three years. This simply means you have to be able to show that you have lived in Japan on a visa for three years.

In Shona's situation, you may be OK if you have left Japan periodically during that time, but generally speaking you will need to have lived here continuously for three years.

With each case being judged independently, there is often no rhyme or reason: You may meet all the conditions and still be refused; or you may fail to meet the minimum conditions and be awarded permanent status.

At the same time, you don't have to tackle the application process alone. You can go to a gyosei shoshi, or immigration lawyer. They go to the immigration offices every day and, for a fee, will do all the work for you. One good source is Mr. Nakai, who can be contacted on (03) 6402-7654 or at www.tokyovisa.co.jp.

To give yourself an edge, it also helps if you can supply a few references from Japanese professionals.

Permanent residency applications usually take around six months to be processed. (K.J.)

Landed but lonely

Hazel used to be a flight attendant with Cathay Pacific Airways based in Hong Kong in the early 1990s. "Back then there were quite a few Japanese crew members, and we all had a good time working together," she writes.

However, since 1997 and the move to Chek Lap Kok Airport (from the crowded Kai Tak Airport), many have resigned, with everyone getting on with their personal lives, getting married, settling down, and so on. Hazel is especially sad to have lost touch with her former housemate Masako Takase.

"There were a few others with whom I'd like to make contact and have a gathering sometime. Any advice on the most effective method?"

We hope that someone reads this and starts the ball rolling. You could also try contacting your old accountant to see if records are kept on where former staff have moved to. (A.J.)

Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com and (03) 000-911. Send questions, queries, problems and posers to community@japantimes.co.jp


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