Hong Kong helps Japan earthquake victims – could Hawaii do more?

Since the Japan Earthquake more than 2 weeks ago, cities and countries have been taking action to help Japan nationals.

Hong Kong helps Japan earthquake victims – could Hawaii do more?

Since the Japan Earthquake more than 2 weeks ago, cities and countries have been taking action to help Japan nationals. In Hong Kong, more than 250 business executives from Japan were granted work visas in just 2 week’s time. The Hong Kong Immigration Department has also received a further 300-plus inquiries from professionals in Japan worried about radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear fuel plant and further earthquakes.

“Since there is NO visa requirements for Japanese nationals to come to Hawaii, why is Hawaii’s government not offering to help relocate Japanese nationals to Hawaii?” asked Johnson W. K. Choi, Past President/Director of the University of Hawaii Travel Industry Management Alumni.

“Many applicants were very glad that we could grant the visa within two days,” said Hong Kong’s newly-appointed director of immigration Eric Chan Kwok-ki as he disclosed the figures, “Those applicants can bring economic benefit to Hong Kong. We hope that they consider long-term settlement in Hong Kong.”

They are the first official confirmation of a trend which has been apparent as Japan struggles to cope with the aftermath of the twin disasters, which have left 11,800 people confirmed dead and 15,500 missing, and with the crisis at the Fukushima plant 250 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Nuclear power shutdowns triggered rolling power blackouts across much of the country.

Chan said fast-track approval was necessary because professionals leaving Tokyo were eyeing other jurisdictions as potential alternatives.

He said most of those given visas were senior managers of multinational companies in Japan, mainly in the financial sector. Their titles include chief executive officer, vice president, senior investment manager, analyst, and strategist.

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“We have received inquiries from multinational companies and human resources companies applying for visas for their staff working in Japan who would like to leave Japan after the quake,” Chan said.

The 270 applications were received and approved between March 17 and 31.

An assistant director of immigration was appointed to speed up the process so that applicants could have a visa within two days. Chan said it was the “first time in immigration history” such procedures had been put in place. It usually took six to eight weeks to process an application.

“Those applicants might decide to go to other countries if we did not provide a speedy approach,” he said.

The applicants included Europeans, Americans, and Japanese working in Japan. A large number of them were earning between HK$100,000 and over HK$200,000 a month, according to the Immigration Department.

One Tokyo executive who arrived in Hong Kong told the Post that executives in Japan were fleeing to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even as far away as Australia and the United States after the quake. The man said worries about radiation were not the only reason people were leaving Tokyo. Their business had been affected as offices were badly damaged. “Time is money in my business,” he said.

Among the 270 applicants granted a one-year visa, 158 were granted on an employment or investment basis, 62 were for their dependants, one for studying, and 49 applied to extend their visas as they were in Hong Kong right after the earthquake happened.

Last year, 26,881 working visas were granted for employment or investment in the city and 20,385 dependant visas in the same period.


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