Wednesday, June 02, 2004


To give you democratic folks abroad some idea of the monolithically implacable intransigence of Japanese bureaucracy in the face of pleas from the powerless in this democracy, there is the recent news story of the Japanese woman whose mother had married a Chinese man in 1946 and gave up her Japanese citizenship on becoming a Chinese citizen. By mistake, her daughter's citizenship was also revoked.

Thus the daughter's later-born son was also not a Japanese citizen. (In a crowning touch, if one were needed, the father of the son refused to marry the woman because she was not a Japanese citizen). For nearly 60 years subsequently, the woman and her son pleaded with the bureaucrats to let them become naturalized citizens. THE BUREAUCRATS REFUSED.

Note that she wasn't even requesting restoration of her rightful citizenship (where the hell were the lawyers?), but to be naturalized, after being citizen-born and living here for 70 years! So for all that time, she and her son had to register each year as foreign residents, in their own country!

And not one single bureaucrat of all those who faced her over those decades took pity and looked into her case. It took FIVE DECADES for the public servants to realize their error and restore Japanese citizenship to the Japanese woman and her Japanese son.

For those with some wave-making power, though, the bureaucrats can move fast. Back when I was seeking permanent residency so I could get a mortgage to build my house, I was told it could take a few years. I told that to the architect and the contractor, who were waiting to begin work; they and their business associates wrote letters to immigration officials et al., strongly complaining of the delay, how it was affecting local employment etc. I got my PR in a month.

Woman's story here.


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