Photo: Gahag
national

106 foreigners disappeared in Japan last year after arriving on cruise ships

33 Comments
By SoraNews24

Japan has been welcoming record numbers of foreign visitors in the past few years, and not all of them arrive via Narita, Haneda, or one of the other major airports. As an island nation, boat travel is a viable option in getting to Japan, and thanks to easing of government regulations there’s been a huge increase in the number of travelers taking cruise ships to Japan.

In 2014, roughly 410,000 foreign travelers arrived in Japan via cruise ship, but in 2018 that number grew to 2.44 million. The sextupling is largely credited to an amendment to Japan’s Immigration Control Act which went into effect on January 1, 2015, called the Ship Tourism Landing Permit System.

Under the system, foreign visitors who arrive on ships approved by Japan’s Immigration Bureau, have booked passage home on the same vessel, and provide their fingerprints (via electronic scan upon arrival in Japan) can have their visa requirement waived, and also don’t need to be photographed when going through immigration. While this might not be a major change for visitors from countries such as the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and Korea (citizens of which are allowed to stay in Japan for at least 90 days without a prior visa), the Ship Tourism Landing Permit System has made travel to Japan from China and a number of southeast Asian countries much easier, and the relaxed policy has led to a rapid increase in the number of cruise trips traveling from China to Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu (the closest to China out of Japan’s four main islands).

However, with the increase of visitors has also come an increase in the number of foreign cruise passengers who disappear after arriving in Japan, and ostensibly are living/working in the country illegally. In 2018, 106 foreign cruise passengers who got off their boat in Japan never came back for the return trip, nor have they been recorded leaving the country by any other means. 2018 was the first time the number of disappearances was over 100, and represents a sudden jump from the 21 cases in 2015. In 2018, Nagasaki Prefecture itself was the entry point for more than 20 overseas cruise travelers who vanished.

While the five-fold jump from 21 to 106 disappearances between 2015 and 2018 is slightly less than the six-times growth in foreign cruise visitors between 2014 and 2018, it’s still startling enough that the Japanese government is taking notice. Last July, the Immigration Bureau refused to renew the Ship Tourism Landing Permit System status of a cruise ship which had repeatedly had passengers disappear in Japan, the first time a vessel has had its renewal request denied. The bureau is also asking for greater diligence from cruise operators in vetting passengers who are taking the cruise with the intention of illegally residing in Japan after arriving, and also moving towards greater scrutiny of passenger lists with the possibility of rejecting entry to passengers deemed to be at risk of disappearing.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko, Immigration Bureau of Japan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- As foreign tourists come streaming in, Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport nears breaking point

-- New train recreates hotel atmosphere with wood interiors and views from the foot of Mount Fuji

-- The incredible isolation of North Korea — In one map

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
Login to comment

I wonder how many jumped ship down here? Okinawa has gotten a huge increase in the number of ships visiting here and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if some stayed!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That's more than a busful.
2 ( +3 / -1 )

Let’s not throw all foreigners in the same boat. Most of those that did jump ship were asians (most probably Chinese)

4 ( +13 / -9 )

0.00434426% of passengers failed to return home. Now that is a crisis.

8 ( +19 / -11 )

0.00434426% of passengers failed to return home. Now that is a crisis.

That's still one hundred and six people you know nothing about, moving around your country unaccounted for.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

0.00434426% of passengers failed to return home. Now that is a crisis.

All that it takes is for one very bad person out of the 106 to cause havoc with an incident like you see in the West.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

How much does a cruise ticket cost, I wonder? I know steerage is probably not available, but are there cheap, short distance tickets?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That's still one hundred and six people you know nothing about, moving around your country unaccounted for.

Let alone the other thousands that came here on an airplane and stayed! At least those immigration is supposedly aware of!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The irony being, those who disappeared most likely came from countries whose ultra nationalists demonize all things Japanese.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Just ban ships and carriers that hit a certain number of runners. They are responsibility for their clientele. It’s the only way.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

And I agree with gaijinkurd.

It's funny how some want to minimize incidents like these, but all it takes is just one person to commit a violent crime or break other laws. I somehow doubt people would be so flippant if an visitor that stayed in their country illegally committed a horrible crime.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The precautions seem reasonable

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All that it takes is for one very bad person out of the 106 to cause havoc with an incident like you see in the West.

What about the other 410,000 visitors? Couldn't any one of them also "cause havoc" whilst they are in Japan legally? Or any of the other 30,000,000 visitors who arrive legally for that matter.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

These type of articles really need to specify which nationalities make up the majority. (I'm fairly sure it's china) people here have a tendency to lump all foreigners together

4 ( +8 / -4 )

"That's still one hundred and six people you know nothing about, moving around your country unaccounted for."

Thats like 0.00434426% the number of people in the USA moving around unaccounted for.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@scrote

What about the other 410,000 visitors? Couldn't any one of them also "cause havoc" whilst they are in Japan legally? Or any of the other 30,000,000 visitors who arrive legally for that matter.

You mean the ones who entered by going through immigration and showing their passport, as opposed to the ones who just flashed an ID and had their fingerprints taken by a cruise line? I'd feel a little more comfortable with the former.

@stepoutsidethebox

"That's still one hundred and six people you know nothing about, moving around your country unaccounted for."

Thats like 0.00434426% the number of people in the USA moving around unaccounted for.

Which is also a very bad thing.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Build a wall

Or even better, reinstate the sakoku. No one comes in (unless you're Dutch), no one goes out.

/s

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let’s not throw all foreigners in the same boat. Most of those that did jump ship were asians (most probably Chinese)

While not an in depth article on where these illegals are coming from, I believe in the 3rd paragraph of the article, they made it abundantly clear where the boat jumpers are not coming from and that they were indeed mostly coming from China, they mentioned China 3 times in the third Paragraph.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

when I read that people were disappearing in the headline, I immediately began to think there was some sinister reason behind it...now I see I was wrong...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Other than occasional and understandable confusion, I am seeing a pattern in responses to this 'crisis'.

Those who jump ship are, indeed, guilty of breaking a law.

But other than that law ... among that busload of illegal aliens, what are the chances of someone from that select group of wrecking havoc compared to percentage of crimes committed by legal aliens or native Japanese, for that matter?

Statistically, less.

Reaction to the unknown seems to be addressed by two different extremes of temperament:

1 - xenophobes driven by fear and tribal, in-group nationalism, and

2 - xenophiles, who give more than lip service to diversity, and welcome working immigrants as part of the local community ... not as disposable human capital.

You reap what you sow.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

what if there is a serial killer that targets people off the boats.....

but honestly, what immigration is doing... ? put a booth at ports and send bunch of those useless papers pushers there... no reason to do any waivers, scan all as needed and you have the number easily reduced.

offcourse some will try swimming off the ship but those should be easy enough to pick up

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

mind boggling that they could actually get rid of the problem if they actually would do the job assigned to them...

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I think the headline is a bit misleading...it makes it sound like these people were abducted or something...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh no surprise there.. And they aren't 'tourists' they're trained spies. What's the purpose of coming? Chinas already rich, they can afford cruise ship tickets so they're well off.. so it must be spies

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well yes, the people who legally come can also "cause havoc", however at least the government has vetted them before allowing them to come in, knows who they are, what they look like etc etc.

The 106 people who disappeared were also checked at the point of entry, just like the other 410,000 people who arrived by ship. It is impossible to know who will overstay, but whether someone overstays or not has nothing to do with the probability of them "causing havoc", as you put it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The 106 people who disappeared were also checked at the point of entry, just like the other 410,000 people who arrived by ship. It is impossible to know who will overstay, but whether someone overstays or not has nothing to do with the probability of them "causing havoc", as you put it.

No, the people who have disappeared were recorded as having entered the country. Being recorded and being vetted are two entirely different things. When you apply for a visa to a country there is a process and due diligence on the part of the issuing nation to make sure the person is who they say they are etc. Thats why visa wait times are usually, at the minimum, multiple days or more.

I never said they would be "causing havoc" I was quoting you. And yes, while they might not create havoc, they are already breaking the law by living and likely working in the country illegally. I highly doubt they'll have qualms for doing other illegal things.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is no evidence in the article that these tourists were trying to get jobs in Japan. Perhaps some of them were abducted, arrested, killed, etc. I sm skeptical someone would book an expensive cruise just to work in Japan. Much easier to come by plane.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wait for 2020olympics. 18000 Olympic tourists are still missing from the Russian one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's still one hundred and six people you know nothing about, moving around your country unaccounted for.

Funny how that’s bad in Japan but just fine in the US (and with millions of more people, I might add).

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There is zero reason why your sea ports do not have the same immigration scrutiny as your airports.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

106 out of 2.44 million. That amounts to about 1 in every 24,000 ship borne visitors. Not an earth-shattering number.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Joe Blow

Funny how that’s bad in Japan but just fine in the US (and with millions of more people, I might add).

So I guess you missed my response to this comment:

Thats like 0.00434426% the number of people in the USA moving around unaccounted for.

"Which is also a very bad thing."

I don't think it's fine in either country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When you apply for a visa to a country there is a process and due diligence on the part of the issuing nation to make sure the person is who they say they are etc.

The issuance of a visa does not magically prevent someone from committing a crime. I would note that all of the 9/11 terrorists were in the USA legally, in fact it's difficult to think of any major incidents caused by illegal immigrants.

1 ( +1 / -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