Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rebuilding Japan: Special scorn for 'flyjin' foreigners who fled country

As Japan continues to grapple with its nuclear emergency, special scorn has been reserved for the "flyjins", foreigners who made their living in the country but fled in the wake of the March 11 earthquake.

"You are the first foreigners I have seen in my bar in a month," said Hidetsugo Ueno, the bartender at High Five Bar in Ginza. "Are you sure you should be staying here in Japan?" he added, with a smile.

Skittish members of the financial community were the first to empty out and Hong Kong has issued around 300 long-term visas to bankers and traders who wanted to continue working in Asia, but not to live in Tokyo.

"Around 80pc of the visas are to employees at international financial institutions earning at least HK$100,000 (£7,775) a month," said Chan Kwok-ki, Hong Kong's immigration director. Five of those went to employees of ICAP, who sent traders to the island as a temporary measure.

In addition, almost all Chinese and Korean residents in Japan have now left the country, despite no advice to do so from their home governments.

The sudden flight has dismayed the Japanese. (read more)