Elderly Japanese man found to have overstayed his tourist visa for 36 years

An elderly man will be assisted back to Japan after Hualien County police found that he had overstayed his tourist visa by 36 years.

Mr Hori, 82, arrived in Taiwan on a tourist visa in 1983, according to National Immigration Agency records.

Mr Hori told police that after his arrival, he had become involved in a mining venture in Hualian County’s Yuli Township. Hori worked as an engineer maintaining drilling machinery and explosives.

However, when the venture failed, Hori had no money to return home, so he wandered around doing odd jobs for a living.

Eventually, he befriended a woman in Wujian Village, Fuli Township, who allowed him to live in a house where he remained to this day.

Mr Hori for a time worked at a local quarry where he was responsible for maintaining machinery. At other times, he worked odd jobs part-time on farms around the district.

However, as Mr Hori aged, his physical ability to work also declined, and he became more and more dependent on the charity of locals, who furnished him with daily necessities.

House where Mr Hori lived in Wujiang Village, Fuli Township, Hualien County
House from which Mr Hori was eventually evicted. Photo: Hualien County Police.

Two years ago, the woman in whose house Hori lived passed away, and her daughter inherited the house.

The current owner of the house wanted Mr Hori to leave, and although he agreed to, appears to have had nowhere to go. Eventually, the landlord reported Mr Hori’s situation to the police.

Despite having lived in Taiwan for 36 years, Hori appeared to not have mastered the Chinese language, and the police interview had to be conducted in English.

Fortunately, an officer at the station was quite fluent in English, having previously worked in translating English film subtitles, according to an Apple Daily report.

However, the officer appeared frustrated at Hori’s refusal to speak Chinese, according to the following video footage.

“You can speak Chinese, please use Chinese, OK? We’re now in Taiwan. Please use our language.” The officer says.

Mr Hori communicates with a police officer using English.

Mr Hori told police that he wanted to go back to Japan, but didn’t have any money, and hadn’t dared to turn himself in.

Mr Hori was found to have hailed from Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture. He was married and had a son, now estimated to be 60 years old, and a daughter, around 58. Hori had communicated by post in the early years, but had eventually lost contact with his family, and could not provide a specific address.

Police contacted the immigration office in Hualien City for assistance. Immigration officers contacted the Japan Exchange Association, who are attempting to contact Mr Hori’s family, confirm his identity, and repatriate him to Japan.

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