Monday, December 05, 2005

Japan to tighten distribution of entertainment visas

December 5, 2005 12:00am
Source: BBC Monitoring International Reports

Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

Tokyo, 4 December: Japan's Justice Ministry will seek stricter qualification screenings of promoters and bar owners hosting foreign singers or dancers entering Japan with entertainer visas, according to ministry officials. The move comes amid criticism that lax entry procedures on foreign entertainers have allowed for a hotbed of human trafficking. Foreign women who have entered Japan as entertainers have been forced to work for low wages as hostesses in bars or nightclubs or to engage in prostitution.

The ministry has decided to disqualify businesses connected with crime syndicates and will also require them to have paid all the money as promised in the past three years as a way to prevent foreign performers from being exploited with low wages, they said. The ministry plans to revise related ordinances as soon as in January and put the new rules into operation by spring. It will soon announce the outline of the draft revision, the officials said.

Based on a government decision to tighten rules on the entertainer status last December, the ministry set stricter criteria in March for applicants for the visa in a measure mainly addressing Filipinos working in bars or nightclubs in Japan. Under the present ministry ordinances, promoters or bar owners who have violated the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act or Prostitution Prevention Law are already prohibited from hosting foreign nationals working as entertainers. The ministry plans to revise the ordinances so that those linked to crime syndicates - or to former crime syndicate members who have left their gang not more than five years before - would also be disqualified.

Meanwhile, the ministry plans to ease criteria on performances in theatres or halls where the foreign performers need not serve customers, or performances hosted by the state or local governments because there is little fear of human trafficking or illegal employment, they said. According to the ministry, 134,879 people entered Japan with the entertainment status last year. Among them, 82,741 were from the Philippines, 8,277 were from China and 6,704 were from the United States.

Source: Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0020 gmt 4 Dec 05



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