Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Thai travelers being turned away in record numbers

25 Comments

During 2014, the number of Thai nationals refused entry into Japan exceeded 1,000 persons, the Sankei Shimbun (March 8) notes. This figure, according to Japan's Ministry of Justice, began soaring following adoption of the visa waiver system enabling Thai citizens to enter Japan for stays of short duration, which went into effect from July 2013.

Taking advantage of a visa waiver policy, the number of Thai nationals visiting Japan in 2014 surged by 43% over the year before, reaching 681,743. A less happy figure was 4,391. That was the number of Thais in detention, as of Jan 1, 2014, for overstaying their visas. The figure, up by 23% over 2013, marked the first increase for Thai nationals in 21 years, since the era of the "bubble economy" back in the early 1990s.

The most frequently given reason entry refusal by Immigration was "Doubts over the traveler's stated purpose of entry." Many were caught when they failed to provide a credible explanation of their planned sightseeing activities in Japan, leading inspectors to suspect they were coming to work illegally.

The Sankei noted that last year, 91 Thais were also charged with being in violation of the Refugee Act, more than double the figure for 2013. A high-ranking police official was quoted as saying he believed that figure was likely to be "just the tip of the iceberg."

Japan has given high priority to attracting more foreign tourists as one pillar of its economic strategy, with a targeted goal of 20 million annual visitors by 2020. As one measure, it has been selectively adopting visa waiver programs among ASEAN countries, particularly Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

In a related story in the same issue, the Sankei covered a dawn raid on a location in Ibaraki Prefecture that had been under surveillance for the previous three months by immigration authorities, following notification by an informant of the presence of "illegal foreign overstayers."

The building had its windows blackened to prevent outsiders from peering in. According to one investigating inspector, the property around the building was strewn with a "mountain" of abandoned industrial equipment.

As a male Thai emerged from the building clad in a green jacket, he was confronted by immigration inspectors who then proceeded to enter the facility where they found two more Thais, one male and one female.

Upon questioning, it was found that the three had all entered Japan the previous November with visas permitting a stay of 15 days.

"Just as expected, they got in by 'samen,'" the inspector murmured. "Samen" is immigration shorthand for "sasho-menjo" or visa waiver.

The three Thais admitted to having overstayed their visas and engaging in work without permission.

While being transported in a van to the Tokyo Immigration department, the Thai woman, age 39, told an inspector in reasonably conversational Japanese that she had arrived from Bangkok on a flight to Nagoya. "We took the shinkansen and came here (to Ibaraki)," she said. This had been her third sojourn to Japan. She had paid 800,000 yen to a broker in eastern Thailand, who used the money to buy her air ticket and make work arrangements.

Work in the fields harvesting vegetables earned her 5,000 yen per day. While the amount seems low, an immigration official told the newspaper that a worker could earn enough in two to three years to build a 3-story dwelling. "So they borrow money to come here," he explained with a shrug.

The woman, who left two children back in Thailand, told the inspector, "I like Japan. But I guess I won't be able to come anymore."

Other Thai visa violators have been detained while working in massage parlors in Tokyo and other large cities, and the number is reportedly on the rise. Last year the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested 139, up by 36% from 2013. As more operators of sex businesses attempt to exploit the current no-visa loophole, the authorities are likely to respond with tougher crackdowns.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

25 Comments
Login to comment

Seems like getting a visa would be a good idea if you are Thai before flying to Japan.

Lots of 1st-world countries have this same issue. Perhaps there needs to be a 1-person-leaves before the next person enters from the same country under the same type of entry criteria?

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

It would be interesting to compare the number of Thai vegetable pickers illegally entering Japan with the number of Japanese sex tourists, pedophiles, money lauderers and gangsters entering Thailand each year.

24 ( +31 / -7 )

1,000 out of nearly 682,000 is about .15%. Don't think that is something to get too worked up over. Would need to know what the overall rate for being turned away is.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Any Japanese arrested for employing them? Did they still have their passports?

Visitors increase by 43%, those in detention by 23%. Does that mean a higher percentage worked illegally when visas were checked more strictly?

I wonder if any illegals were working in Fukushima.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

As more operators of sex businesses [and farm owners] attempt to exploit the current no-visa loophole, the authorities are likely to respond with tougher crackdowns.

These crackdowns invariably target the illegal workers exclusively, with rarely more than a wink and a nod toward the employers who are exploiting them (same situation in the U.S. of course). If the authorities really wanted to discourage illegal immigration they would substantially fine/jail employers.

The thing is, farm owners and other employers, and by extension the authorities, want these illegal workers in Japan. The nation's aging farmers depend on this labor, because they won't find many strapping Japanese youth willing to work under such harsh conditions at low wages. As such, the authorities play a major role in exploiting illegal laborers by occasionally carrying out a high-profile crackdown to keep the illegals "in their place" and ensure that they are easily exploitable.

Keeping these workers illegal, rather than providing work visas, benefits Japan at the expense of the workers. The current scheme enables employers to fly under the radar in terms of labor law and other worker protections, paying substandard wages, no healthcare and often dangerous working conditions. At the same time, the illegal status of these workers means that they must make efforts to remain invisible (no complaints about labor abuses) lest they get deported which leaves them subject to the whims of a broker who they owe money to back home.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Sensato - excellent account of.

The problem of kkk labour shortage is not going away, so the sooner the authorities find a long-term solution enabling foreign workers to come and work legally with dignity, the better many will be.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Thai-hen desu ne...

13 ( +16 / -5 )

I hope they at least let them take their cash out of the banks and their belongs from their apartments.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Wow! Just read an article about labor shortage in Japan for difficult jobs, and see actually one Asian country where people want to come here and make an honest living and learn Japanese,,,

7 ( +8 / -1 )

the number of Thai nationals visiting Japan in 2014 surged by 43% over the year before, reaching 681,743. A less happy figure was 4,391. That was the number of Thais in detention, as of Jan 1, 2014, for overstaying their visas. The figure, up by 23% over 2013, ...

43% vs. 23% - The number of overstayers did not increase proportionally. So what's the problem?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

What about the Chinese tourists who came in swarm taking advantage of their holidays last Feb? Just how many of them overstayed?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

What about the Chinese tourists who came in swarm taking advantage of their holidays last Feb? Just how many of them overstayed?

What about them? It has nothing to do with this article.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

What about them? It has nothing to do with this article.

I'm also confused. The story is about visa-overstayers from Thailand. A small percent to be sure, but apparently due to the waiver mentioned above.

As for employers of illegally working individuals, if they're Japanese, do people seriously think they'll go unpunished? Maybe a high-five or a shared beer with the police when nobody else is around?

It would be interesting to compare the number of Thai vegetable pickers illegally entering Japan with the number of Japanese sex tourists, pedophiles, money lauderers and gangsters entering Thailand each year.

Whatever for? And why only Japanese?

A lot of countries (if not most) have problems with people abusing their visas. How is this an only-in-Japan thing?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I'm also confused. The story is about visa-overstayers from Thailand. A small percent to be sure, but apparently due to the waiver mentioned above.

Which makes the Chinese comment even more off-base, as Chinese are required to get a visa to visit Japan, and the Japanese are quite strict about it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yep Sensato nailed it!

Japan authorities ALLOW these illegals in, PERIOD! Yeah sure they turn a few back to give the illusion of doing their jobs. This abuse of illegals to do KKK jobs has been steadily ongoing since the 80s NON-STOP!

They allow them in, occasionally round some up to send home, but then open the gates at airports to replace those who have been kicked out

Its a nasty business done complicity with J-authorities

4 ( +8 / -3 )

The Thais were brought in here yrs back to compensate for the lag in production due to an incident there. Surely some if not all could have overstayed their visas. They are being used because of lower wages? People who brokered for them are earning a lot off their sweat. Their employers could have been paying the same as if they've hired legals and Jfolks. And yes, the article is about Thais my comment is quite off. Thais and other Asians stand out while the Chinese as long as they don't talk blend with the Jcrowd. Seems like even news are misleading or they mean to say waivering visas shld be stopped.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The problem of kkk labour shortage is not going away, so the sooner the authorities find a long-term solution enabling foreign workers to come and work legally with dignity, the better many will be.

This is a weak, but commonly accepted argument. You are correct that people would prefer not to have to do KKK work if they did not have to, but this is not an excuse for letting in cheap foreign labour to allow it to be done.

In a market economy, supply and demand tend to meet. If you are unable to fill your KKK position for 650 yen p/h, it may be that the salary is not high enough. Raise the salary and you will fill the position.

Not many people want to clean toilets for 650 yen p/h, but they would be queuing around the block for 2000 yen p/h.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

jerseyboyMAR. 12, 2015 - 08:33AM JST 1,000 out of nearly 682,000 is about .15%. Don't think that is something to get too worked up over. Would need to know what the overall rate for being turned away is.

That's 1,000 turned away. Of the 682,000 admitted, how many didn't leave Japan? They know this since you go through passport control exiting Japan. My guess is that it's at least 1,000 more.

An interesting article that, again, leaves out all sorts of information and/or fails to ask the most obvious follow-up questions.

SensatoMAR. 12, 2015 - 08:40AM JST As more operators of sex businesses [and farm owners] attempt to exploit the current no-visa loophole, the authorities are likely to respond with tougher crackdowns. The thing is, farm owners and other employers, and by extension the authorities, want these illegal workers in Japan. The nation's aging farmers depend on this labor, because they won't find many strapping Japanese youth willing to work under such harsh conditions at low wages.

Same is true in the U.S. where last year's crack down meant crops left in the fields and fruit on trees.

Both economies need a certain number of guest workers, though Japan, because its labor markets are so screwed up, arguably needs a much smaller number.

StrangerlandMAR. 12, 2015 - 09:59AM JST What about the Chinese tourists who came in swarm taking advantage of their holidays last Feb? Just how many of them overstayed?-- What about them? It has nothing to do with this article.

Of course it does as there are easily more illegal Chinese in Japan than any other nationality. Regardless of where someone comes from, it's all part of the same immigration issue, legal or otherwise. Again, putting the Thai numbers in perspective would have made this a better rounded and more informative article.

GWMAR. 12, 2015 - 11:56AM JST Yep Sensato nailed it! Japan authorities ALLOW these illegals in, PERIOD! Yeah sure they turn a few back to give the illusion of doing their jobs. This abuse of illegals to do KKK jobs has been steadily ongoing since the 80s NON-STOP!

Yup. Visited a customer's wood moulding and interior door plant, also in Ibaraki-ken, back in the mid-90s and all the labor was from SE Asia. Doubt this small time manufacturer could have had the pull to secure that many visas.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Just a technical point, but the "bubble economy" was during the late 80s, not the early 90s. It crashed in 90-91.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

`Jeff, thanks. Sometimes I just avoid lengthy discussions. For one English isn't my native lingo and I'm afraid I'd run out of words to best expound my point. One reason why I'm fond of blogging and commenting, for practice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't blame Japan for this actually. I think Japan saw what happened in South Korea, and they've become very wary. South Korea saw its illegal Thais rise by 100% in one year, after the Visa waiver program between the two countries couple of years ago. Since the beginning of 2013, Thai population in South Korea doubled in less than one year. Out of 100,000 Thais living in South Korea, over half don't even have a proper visa. That's 50% illegal rate, which is unheard of. Therefore, a lot of Thai tourists were turned away from South Korean airport, causing diplomatic frictions between the two countries.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Then give them legal visas to work after strict documentation. Japan doesn't have luxury to be choosy. Most highly skilled white collar workers (the type that Japanese government wants)if given a choice, wouldn't want to work in Japan anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yeah, they talk a lot of "farm work" in this article, but what I'd really like to see is a breakdown of the gender of those caught. I would bet it's a 5 to 1 ratio females to males, since the industry who really gets around the system, no questions asked, isn't farmers, but the underground-controlled Japanese sex and night-entertainment trade.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if Japanese politicians took a cue from US policy and welcomed all the illegal Thais who want to come, giving them access to welfare and voting rights. Would he be praised by his political party?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many of them only get paid at the end of their contract, so if they are unfortunately detained and deported towards the end of their employment period, the employers save a lot of money. A trick that they may have learned from how the Thais treat Burmese contract workers...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites