Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Fun with Bureaucracy (Yeah, right!)

These are the requirements listed in Japan Embassy's website:

1. A valid passport
2. One(1) visa aplication form
3. One(1) Malaysian passport size photo
4. Confirmed flight itinerary (issued by the travel agency/airline) or a flight schedule in detail
5. A letter (using the company letter-head) from your company stating your position in the company, your period of service in the company, your purpose of journey and period of stay and how expenses will be borne.
6. Material showing your capacity to bear staying expenses in Japan (e.g. Bank statement)
7. Itinerary in Japan
8. Hotel voucher or other documents showing your accommodation in Japan

All these years it was easy for us to get visa. Which is why I was quite dumbfounded when the Embassy rejected our application not once but twice!

First time, because I enclosed a print-out of my bank statement with my application. My account with the bank is the i-account with no passbook and whatever I printed out from its website is considered original (and was never questioned by the Embassy before), and that printout was confirmed as original by the Bank. But no, I had to go to the branch, get an officer to certify true copy my statement. Fine, I can do that. End of story, or so I thought.

Submitted the application the second time, and guess what? Rejected again. This time, because the balance in our bank account was not enough for us to qualify to visit Japan. It seems that unless we have RM6,000.00 per person in our bank account, our application will not be even considered. That means, for the three of us, we need to show RM18,000.00 in our account. The fun part is, according to the Japanese guy manning the visa section, children and infant will not be exempted from this requirement.

I am now writing this calmly as I pretty much cooled down. But you should hear me berating both the guy at the Embassy and my poor travel agent. Not a good move, especially since my visa application is subject to their mercy.

I got mad because the Embassy guy should have the courtesy and initiative to inform my runner about all the requirements when rejecting my first application. And I got pretty pissed off by his answer to my queries on why there is the requirement for RM6,000.00 cash balance in bank as there were absolutely no mention of this in the website. The answer was, get ready for this:
"If you don't have money, then don't go to Japan".
To which I answer: I have xxx,xxx amount of Yen in my hand now, would you like to see them too? and he "politely" (sarcasm here) declined.

OK, so there's mention about showing your capacity to bear expenses in Japan in the website (item 6) - but where does the RM6,000.00 per person mentioned as pre-requisite? (and why it was never a requirement before.) I never spend or needed RM18,000.00 for my holidays before. Anyway, why do children be counted in this equation too? Its not like I want to stay permanently or study or even work in Japan...

Of course there are concerns on illegal immigrants working in Japan (I guess only us in developing/third world countries are guilty of this), but not everyone want to enter and work in Japan illegally.

I know friends who submitted their fixed deposit certificates, Income Tax Returns, EPF statements and even their parents' passbook (why do you need to disclose your whole family personal banking history is beyond me) to Japan Embassy in the past but I was duly assured by the Embassy employee a couple of years back, a bank statement showing our salary activities will be enough. Well, at least I was not required to submit my marriage certificate to the embassy, as it did happen to a friend of mine.

Isn't bureaucracy a wonderful thing?

Just hope the entry procedure at Kansai Airport will go smoothly for us come Mar 16th.

Well, at least it is still easier to apply for a visa to Japan than a visa to America.


  1. Ha, you should try living here ... or there [the U.S.].

  2. Wow, that seriously sucks!

    It will be worth it to see you though.

  3. thomas,
    that'll bring another set of nightmare. :-(

    yeah, well...
    another 12 days to our holiday.

  4. OMG, it's harder to get into the US than it is to Japan? NOOOO.. and i thought your experience was hard enough! I'll never get to America!! *being dramatic*

    OR Japan, anytime soon.. if they don't reduce the bank account minimum. How is anyone suppose to spend any money if it's all in the bank?! LOL..

    Well, i hope all your hard work will pay off once you're there! And that there won't be trouble when you're in their territory. That, i imagine, would be scary!


    p.s. Smuggle me? No? :P

  5. shaun,
    any country has the right to impose laws for outsiders to enter their country. It is much easier if all the requirements are stated clearly.
    The RM6K min amount - who to stop you from borrowing money, put in your account and withdraw them the day after? That's why this requirement doesn't make sense to me.
    Hopefully not. So far, I've always been mistaken as Japanese by locals and tourists alike when I'm in Japan. It was hilarious (and exasperating) when tourists tried asking me questions / help take their photos and assumed I cannot understand English.
    Smuggle you - die if got caught. :p Anyway, I don't think you can fit in my backpack. LOL


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