Identity Crisis


Originally published on on July 2012

In August comes Obon, or the Japanese festival of the dead. And just as yurei (Japanese ghosts) straddle a painful line between death and life, so do many foreigners feel torn between two worlds—the Old Country and the New Home. What better way to clarify your metaphysical status than by transforming your Alien Registration Card into the new Resident’s Card?

So what’s the difference? Mainly, it’s dealt with by Immigration and thus the Ministry of Justice—not your local ward/city office. Spinechilling stuff.

We Shades and Spirits from Another Land should change our cards up by July 8… 2015. That should allow some purgatory time. If your card expires before then, float along to Immigration and seize one of them hot new plastic rectangles.

Why the change? The government is keen on centralizing a registry of barbarian poltergeists in case of natural disasters and epidemics of unseparated garbage.

Long-termers could get extended to five-year visas, and students will be able to cover three/four-year courses.

In case you thought this was just bureaucratic manure, there is a sweetener. Say sayonara to re-entry permits. Now you can go on holiday without shame and self-loathing. Unless you’re visiting the folks, that is.