Last spring, The Alien Times sponsored a petition drive to ask the city to make a formal request for a branch immigration office in Tsukuba. As anyone knows who has had to make the trek into Otemachi or up to Hitachi knows, going in to do the simplest tasks (reentry permits, visa extensions, etc.), requires a minimum of half a day (and often a whole day), along with the transportation expenses. While the situation may help JR and the Joban Expressway make bigger profits, it doesn't say much for Tsukuba's status as an "International City".
The city council agrees fully with the goal of the petition and has officially adopted it, making formal request to the national government to set up an office locally as soon as possible. In all likelihood, it will begin as a part-time operation, with personnel coming out to a office provided in the city only certain days of the month. The wheels of bureacracy, however, are notoriously slow, so don't expect it next week. There is, however, at least some light at the end of the tunnel! As physicist will tell you, though, just how soon the city's request will be acted upon depends on how long the tunnel is and how fast the train (running on the wheels of bureacracy) is moving. Stay tuned for further details (but don't hold your breath!)
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