Admin Day

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 1 Apr 2014 12:30

Alongside Fukuoka
Weather: mostly sunny, mild

Today has been mostly devoted to running around and attending to the bureaucrats. The first job after breakfast was to move Sylph to the berth the marina has provided me, which I have backed Sylph into, so as to make it easy to work on the wind vane. Once that was done I followed the excellent instructions on the maps that the marina had provided to get to the building in the commercial port district where the customs, immigration and quarantine offices were located.

While I was in the Immigration office I asked about having my visa extended. This is a bit of a long and convoluted story but the bottom line is I ended up going to the Immigration Bureau's office  at the airport. I filled in some paperwork with the help of a very pleasant young lady, and then took my ticket to be seen my the man with the decision making power. When my number was eventually called my heart sunk when I saw the man who was behind the counter. His whole body language spoke of a certain arrogance I have seen in a few immigration officers in my travels. My theory is that immigration officers have a great deal of power over people's lives, unlike any other bureaucrat. I am sure most of them are aware of that power and exercise it with empathy, but there are the few where the dark side seems to win out. The man behind the counter with his unsmiling, impatient look, and his aloof manner, as if he could barely be bothered to look at my papers, seemed to be one of them.

He read my application rather cursorily, then called over a girl to explain his decision while he walked away a few steps and directed his attention elsewhere as if to make it clear that there could be no appeal. The Master's decision was that I was not able to have an extension because I had entered Japan on a temporary visitor's permit and this type of entry does not allow for an extension. Though it must be said that, having delivered his verdict, proceedings did actually soften somewhat from this point. I was making the claim that I needed the extension as a matter of safety, as it would be dangerous to cross the North Pacific Ocean much before early June. The two officials listened to my reasons, and even went off to discuss the situation, though I suspect there was no chance of a change of mind, which indeed proved to be the case. The officer did advise me however that it would be alright to leave Sylph in Japan while I travelled to South Korea for a few days and then returned. On that basis another ninety day temporary visitor's permit would be granted.  It was the outcome I had been expecting, which is of course why I came here to Fukuoka, for its proximity to South Korea, so I was not altogether disconsolate as I took the train back to the marina, just mildly disappointed.

So it seems I now have to go to South Korea, leaving Japan before the sixteenth. Seeing as I have to go for a few days I am thinking that maybe I will sail there. My options are to fly, catch a fast ferry, or take slow old Sylph. The last time I was in Busan was in 1979 when I was midshipman in the Royal Australian Navy. Oddly enough this, my first posting to sea, was to the USS Chicago, along with two other midshipmen (one who later made Rear Admiral but sadly died of a brain tumor a few years ago, and the other Commodore, whereas I am afraid I was the black sheep, and only got as far as Lieutenant Commander). They were heady days.

All is well.