Thursday, January 27, 2022

That Soylent Green Moment

One of the pleasures of living in Japan as a non-Japanese passport carrier is to be able to use the "Re-Entry Permit" line inbound at the airport. Usually both people ahead in the queue are processed and through in a matter of minutes whereas the (and you'll notice I qualified the passport point with "living in Japan") non-residents and also Japanese passport holders are privileged to enjoy the pleasure of an awful long time in their respective queues with a strong dependence on inbound flight schedules. That is of course provided you have your visa in order...

Although many don't realize the point, when you arrive, if you don't have a visa, you're actually being granted a ninety day (which allows for business meeting etc to boot) tourist visa. From most countries. Some need pre-issued visas but that's not what today is about. Living here requires a valid visa, and these arise in multiple flavors, whether one, three, seven years etc. But they all have one thing in common. They all need to be renewed before you become a fugitive from the his Imperial Majesty's pleasure.

And so came my day yesterday. The Tokyo main visa center is in one of the most inaccessible places there is, in amongst the labyrinthian roads and islands of downtown Shinagawa. On-line, the staff receive a generally bad wrap (rap?) which, to be honest, is unfair. They're nice and helpful, though a smattering of English would be a plus. But within thirty minutes I was processed and on my way out. This is a ritual I go through every seven years and each time I meet someone I know. It struck me yesterday, though, there was no one who appeared to be over sixty years old. Which means one of two things. Older people return tend to their home country in general, or that the door, marked "Soylent Green", has something else behind it...

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