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Friday, March 7, 2008

Myanmar woman to be deported despite marriage


Staff writer

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday backed a government decision to deport a 36-year-old woman from Myanmar, rebuffing her argument that her marriage to a 76-year-old Japanese man was genuine and allows her to legally stay in Japan.

The woman was arrested last April for violating immigration law but argued that her marriage to Kiyoharu Uchizawa, a restaurant owner in Tokyo's Taito Ward, was legitimate, entitling her to remain in Japan.

The woman has asked to remain anonymous.

In denying her stay and challenging the credibility of the marriage, Presiding Judge Tasuku Daimon called the marriage "greatly doubtful," questioning whether the two had "a sincere will to live together with the purpose of uniting both spiritually and physically."

"Difference in age does not necessarily become an obstacle to romantic affection," the court said, adding, however, that Uchizawa was elderly by the time the two met and twice divorced.

The woman told reporters, however, that her feelings toward Uchizawa "are not affected by the difference in age."

"I love the way she is always kind and considerate," Uchizawa said, adding the couple will appeal the ruling.

The woman originally arrived in Tokyo in 2003 on a short-stay visa, but overstayed the 15-day permit while she worked at Uchizawa's restaurant. The two began living together in 2004.

According to the suit filed last July, the woman was arrested last April 20, after being questioned by police while grocery shopping in Tokyo's Okachimachi district. She married Uchizawa in May following her arrest, but the immigration bureau, which judged the marriage to be bogus, ordered her deportation in June.

The woman has been released on parole, but it remains uncertain if she will be detained, defense lawyer Kensuke Onuki said.

The lawyer said the verdict was a rare case in which the difference in age was the main reason the court rejected the marriage.

In defending the timing of the marriage, the lawyer said the two were in the process of obtaining the necessary paperwork from Myanmar to wed when their client was arrested for overstaying.

"The ruling illustrates at one point that Mr. Uchizawa and his wife are not a genuine couple, because they go to bed and wake up at different times and take their meals separately," the lawyer told reporters.

"If that is the case, my marriage is not sincere as well," he said.



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