Overstaying Your Visa in Japan Is an Incredibly Dumb Thing to Do

Okay, terrible confession time – I was an illegal human being for about ten days a few months ago. I had no idea and luckily I didn’t get stopped by any cops or anything.

I went to immigration to upgrade to the new foreigner card and the lady behind the counter’s eyes grew huge and she said, “You’ve overstayed!” and frantically whipped out a bunch of paperwork I had to do and return as soon as possible.

I spent the afternoon gathering the stuff I had to from the city and ward offices. I then filled out all of the necessary paperwork (they give you a temporary extension and then a new visa usually at the same time, so you have to fill out both documents).

One thing you have to fill out is the Why I Overstayed And I’m So Very Sorry And Will Never Do It Again document (not the real name, I think, but close). I wrote an apologetic and remorseful page about how much I dearly love this country and how I don’t want my family to be torn apart, etc. All true and sincere, by the way.

The next day I went back, submitted all papers, waited a very long half hour, and was given my new foreigner card.

So, everything was alright, but it was a sleepless and nerve-wracking 36-or-so hours. I didn’t know what was going to happen and, even worse, I read the internet…

That’s what you’re doing right now! You’re like me, quivering behind your computer monitor, small and highly concentrated turd nuggets knocking around in your drawers, envisioning your future, a homeless, toothless, hopeless loser sitting on a barstool somewhere telling somebody about how you got kicked out of Japan for missing a simple deadline.

Here’s what I read on the internet (and it’s all true):

  • They can arrest you on the spot.
  • They can kick you out of Japan for five years with no guarantee you’ll ever be let in the country again (do a little search, you’ll find a story from 2004 where a couple was kicked out for overstaying ONE DAY).
  • They can give you the extension and then make you wait in immigration limbo forever unable to work while you’re waiting.

So, yeah, if you’re unlucky or your chosen immigration officer is grumpy, there could be hell to pay. But here are some encouraging words:

  • In general, Japan is trying to get overstayers to come forward, which leads me to believe that they’re going easier on overstayers than in years past.
  • If you’ve been in Japan for years, paid Japanese taxes, participated in the national health system, have a family, have gainful employment, and have no criminal record, you should be alright. They told me that’s why they helped me stay.

So, quivering turd-nugget dropping overstayer: Get to immigration ASAP, apologize for your utter stupidity, fill out all necessary forms pronto, bow and scrape, and cry tears of gratitude when they stamp your visa.

And don’t miss the deadline again, dumbass…

The Japanese Convini Is Where Your Dreams of Convenience Come True

Why do I love Japan so much? To be totally and horibbly honest, it’s the fact that at 3 in the morning I can go to the nearest brightly lit convini (convenience store) and buy a super noodle cup, a candy bar and a lemon chu-hi. The convini is there for me like a good, good friend that never lets me down.

Okay, maybe that’s not why I love Japan so much, but it certainly helps. In the US, your local convenience store has nothing but questionable taquitos rotating in a grisly slow death on a filthy grill and nachos whose cheese comes from a ‘bladder.’ Oh, not to mention liquid meth energy drinks and frozen pot pies. Continue reading

Fukushima Fallout and the Annihilation of Japan

When reading news stories on the internet about Fukushima:

– Look for facts and the sources of those facts, either as sources cited or as links. Check out the sources to make sure they’re legit. If a website cites other pages of itself, those aren’t sources.

– Check out any ‘experts’ quoted by doing a quick Google search on the person’s name. Find out if they’re qualified to speak on the topic. ‘Researcher’ is usually a codename for ‘conspiracy theorist nutjob.’

– Take any unsupported facts that alarm you and do a quick Google search to see if any other articles or websites anywhere mention these facts. If not, they’re probably made up.

– See what the site is selling. For example, NaturalNews runs a story on the radioactivity spewing out of Fukushima and the cover-up by authorities and official news sources… then offers to sell you your own home-use radiometer. Ka-ching!!

– Avoid any article that uses hyperbolic language about armageddon, apocalypse, or death on a mass scale that hasn’t happened yet.

You’re too smart and skeptical to buy the BS the corporate media is trying to sell you. Good job! Now, apply that same skepticism to ‘alternative news’ websites, which could be run by some random dude in his basement.

We don’t need hysteria, panic and paranoia. We need facts. It’s better to admit that you don’t know and take precautions than to make stuff up.

How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Did you notice that things have been shaking a bit lately? No matter how many years I live in Japan, I never get used to that. The Great Tohoku Earthquake of ’11 stretched my perspective a bit and made all the others before it seem like nothing at all, but it still freaks me out when the earth moves under my feet.

I learned a valuable lesson in March 2011 – I discovered that I had no idea how to prepare for an earthquake. Whether you’re in Japan, the earthquake capital of the world, or anywhere else (they can happen anywhere), here’s a rundown on what to do. Continue reading

Abe Administration Flings More Money At English Education

Japanese politicians are blabbing once again about internationalization, something they know nothing at all about.

The plan? Just as bone-headed as all past plans – double the number of ALTs in Japanese schools and switch from one useless test to another useless test. The net effect will be zero and in a couple of years, they’ll decide it was a waste, cut the number of ALTs, etc. And then in a few years after that, talk about internationalization again, and so on, and still nobody graduating from a Japanese school can answer the question, ‘How are you today?’ Continue reading