Visas and Foreigners

I finally got my Indian Visa. Just today. Just in time. Denied twice. Took 3 weeks. Visits to two embassies and a travel agency and a bunch of confusing phone calls across a couple of languages. Big pain in the ass. But at least I get to go to India for a one-time visit for FOSS.IN. Hope the weather is nice.

So, with all that cleared up, I now get to go to Narita Airport on Sunday, where Japanese authorities will promptly mug shot me and fingerprint me as I leave the country (here, here). Then they'll do it again as I return home. And then when I go on another trip I'll get mugged and fingered again. And so on. Not because I did anything wrong, mind you, but because I'm not Japanese. I'm known as a "resident alien" here. They call me a "foreigner" and they actually use that word. A lot. I live here and have already passed all the Japanese immigration processes. This is my home. I even pay a boat load of taxes to the Japanese government (and the American government). And I have a fancy immigration card and multi-year work Visa and all, but I'm still a "foreigner" so that means, of course, I'm a potential you-know-what. The big T. You know, I'm already reminded I am a "foreigner" on an almost daily basis in Japan. This just makes the obnoxious all the more obscene.

Don't be upset/frustrated over the gaijin (foreigner in Japanese) stamp. Even if you make Nippon your permanent home and 10 generations downstream they'll still call your descendants gaijin. Japan is one of the most 'closed' societies. Here's a snippet from 'Future of Capitalism' by Lester Thurow:

- If a US company opens a foreign branch it'll have a US person running it for the first few years and then it'll be the 'local' team running it.
- If a European company opens a foreign branch it'll have a European running it for 25-50 years and then it'll be the 'local' team.
- If a Japanese company opens a foreign branch it'll be run by a Japanese for 100's of years.

The whole Nissan/Ghosn and Sony is a huge variation and is definitely not par for the course.

Posted by Anantha on November 29, 2007 at 04:56 PM JST #

Well, do you know how the US treats its immigrants ? They are called "aliens" too. A mug shot, finger print and retinal scan is taken everytime they enter the US too. It is easier to jump over the mexican border illegally and become a US citizen, than to follow the US government legal process to become one. Every other country is just returning the favour.

Posted by JAF on November 29, 2007 at 05:01 PM JST #

Anantha... yes, very closed society here, no question about it. Probably the most closed in the so-called open western world.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 29, 2007 at 05:05 PM JST #

JAF ... yep, the Japanese seem to model themselves (in this regard, anyway) after the US. But they took the US policy even further than the US by treating the resident foreigners the same as the traveling foreigners. My wife has a Green Card, and she was treated a million times better in the US than I am treated here. It`s not even close, actually. Both sides are pretty crappy about this traveling bit, though.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 29, 2007 at 05:11 PM JST #

Weather is great in Bangalore at this time of the year. And you will meet a great developer community.

Posted by Vasanth Vaidyanathan on November 29, 2007 at 06:01 PM JST #

Good to know will come to India. Hope to see you at
( You can drop by the SpikeSource stall and i'll be there!)

Posted by Manish Chakravarty on November 29, 2007 at 08:44 PM JST #

I was a resident alien in the USA until 2006 and while the photo/finger is a pain, you get used to it. If you go in/out of the country frequently they just skip the check, like the data if fresh enough.

Now it is going to be all 10 fingers... what a waste of time.

Posted by Marcelo on November 29, 2007 at 10:08 PM JST #

Don't forget that all this jabbing at US is easy. It was brought about by our friends from the relegion of peace (please don't start a relegious war here.) When I entered US in 1984 there was no such thing as finger print.

We live in a different world now and to a large extent none of us like it but it is not a matter of choice, is it? Regardless of this immigration/finger print/palm print/... Japan is undeniably one of the most 'close' societies. I've been in USA for no less than 23 years and I can tell you nobody thinks of me as an outsider. Not once have I felt that I'm a foreigner here. I'm judged by what I bring to the table and treated on par with Americans. I'm from India (Bengaluru) and I can tell you that I'm accepted better in USA than in New Delhi. Never have I been discriminated against in USA.

In Japan you're forever a gaijin (and an outsider as a consequence), no ifs and buts about it.

Posted by Anantha on November 29, 2007 at 11:42 PM JST #

Lots of Mozilla folks will be at, and Mitchell will be doing a keynote. Please say hi to the Mozillians.

Posted by Gen Kanai on November 30, 2007 at 02:32 AM JST #

please stick to software, computers and photograhy in your next blogs.....

Posted by willem on November 30, 2007 at 06:05 AM JST #

hey, Gen ... cool. I'll ping as many as I can. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 30, 2007 at 06:28 AM JST #

hello, willem. I blog about whatever I want to blog about (within Sun's rules, anyway). It's alwys been that way, and it will always be that way. Sorry.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 30, 2007 at 06:30 AM JST #

Vasanth and Manish ... looking forward to it. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 30, 2007 at 06:31 AM JST #

Even if the world is phisically one, there are too many bounds...

Pierluigi Rotundo

Posted by Pierluigi Rotundo on December 01, 2007 at 07:40 PM JST #


Posted by erol on December 02, 2007 at 12:29 PM JST #

Congratulations! Welcome to the world of the aliens. I must say that I have been a "legal alien" in the US before being naturalized. What you're describing isn't so bad. And after 2001, I get humiliated in various US airports on a regular basis being an AMERICAN CITIZEN!

China, by the way, is a lot easier.

Posted by Amiram on December 07, 2007 at 02:03 AM JST #

hi i am from bangalore and when you come to india and come to bangalore and if you need any kind of help contact me i will help you.T&C apply

Posted by Ankit Kataria on September 05, 2008 at 09:26 PM JST #

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