On Dec. 19, representatives from the International Exchange Association of Ibaraki visited Tsukuba to listen to the viewpoints of several foreign residents on a variety of aspects of life in Tsukuba. Six foreign residents, including myself as editor of the Alien Times, were selected to discuss with the prefectural representatives problem areas related to transportation, housing, education of children and any other areas of concern. Other foreign representatives included a Mr. Xiao Hu, a very arituclate researchers from China, two foreign students from the University of Tsukuba, and two housewives, one from China and the other from Ukraine.
Themes familiar from previous such encounters included the perenial (but still ignored) request to put numbers on buses so that foreigners who can't read kanji can distinguish them, a suggestion to name more streets and put up street signs to make it easier to find places, and, of course, the needs of Tsukuba International School.
Mr. Hu asked why a branch immigration office has not been established in Tsukuba, given the large mumbers of foreigners who regularly need to do business with the immigration authorities. The reply was that the only reason they could think of why such a branch office hasn't been brought to Tsukuba is that there hasn't been any organized or persistent request from the foreign community (or their Japanese hosts) for that to be done. They suggested that all that is needed to get the ball rolling is an organized campaign to request the immigration authorities to set up an office in Tsukuba.
In the past, I, as an individual, have asked immigration why there wasn't one, and was told that there wasn't budget for one. Budgets, however, are made each year, and so if there is a petition with many hundreds of names on it, perhaps they will be pursuaded to change those budgetary priorities. With this in mind, we ask you to make copies of page 4 of the Alien Times and collect signatures to be gathered together to present to the proper authorities some time in the near future.
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