The thing I really would like to know is what visa status Chris Johnson had when he left Japan, and when he returned. So I’ve asked him, and I haven’t seen the Twitter response yet. (It can come here, too.)
If the story is supposed to be about whether immigration detentions are good or bad, I am sure that that is its own story. What I would really like to know is whether Japan had grounds to detain Johnson at the airport, and, then, insist that he get back on a plane to Canada.
No one likes not to be let into a country–I’ve never had it happen to me, but I think it is a safe assumption. But suppose that while Johnson was outside of Japan, the immigration office did a little following-up of his visa application, and found that he was operating as a reporter in Japan without the proper visa. Never mind if he was plying his craft in the area of Fukushima or not. Just simply, was he legal beforehand? If the answer is “no”, then it doesn’t surprise that the doorkeepers in Narita would say: “sorry”. And not let the person back in.
It’s not like I don’t have a certain amount of empathy. As regular readers know, my last corporate job in Japan is one where it still must be determined whether I held regular employment (as I contend) or term-limited contract employment (in which case, I am definitely owed a ton of overtime). When my visa was going to expire in November 2010, I did not have the option of sitting it out or getting a renewal based on my claim. So I had to leave. There are certain earning hurdles that you have to hit to maintain a work visa. It could be that freelance reporting does not pay enough to do that. I’m not sure that, there, it would be Japan’s fault.
It still seems to me that what Chris Johnson had was a situation where he didn’t have the right stamp to be in Japan. He may not have had the right one before then, and so the government wouldn’t let him back in. He has a bad experience at Narita, where there have, in fact, been much more serious abuses in the last 20 years–including recently. So a story gets posted about Bad Japan, and the blogging community has it shopped around for takers.