Michael Q Todd: Living and working in Japan without a work visa? A victim of passport theft?
Update: Michael has been released! Check his version of the story here.
More details have emerged regarding the case of Michael Q Todd, a New Zealander who has been sent to a detainment facility after failing to show valid proof of a visa to Japanese police. It has now been revealed that false information was used by his friends to raise over $4,000 on his behalf.
The original fundraising page claimed that Todd was “in the process of trying to get his visa extended and because the paper work has been misplaced by the Japanese Government and he had no documents, the police arrested him.” After numerous people poked holes in that story, his friends provided new information:
Michael is in Japan on a tourist visa. Michael speaks Japanese and has two Japanese children from former marriage living in Japan. Michael lives with his fiancee, Yoriko.
Michael knew his Japanese visitor’s visa was going to expire and Yoriko reports that he had applied for an extension. After his arrest, she discovered that the extension had not been processed. She has referenced a legal change to the process. Michael was not aware of this problem until she met with him in jail on September 25, 2012.
However, the new story was just as questionable as the original story. Citizens of New Zealand do not receive a “visitor visa” from Japan, they receive visa exemption stamps (allowing for 3 months of tourism in Japan). I have never heard of any person being able to apply for an extension of such a status.
Here’s the latest information from Todd’s friends:
When news about Michael’s arrest first hit the web, there was confusion as to whether the visa had actually expired or was held up due to lost paperwork. There is now no confusion — his visa has expired. It is still not known when it expired or why Michael believed he had taken the proper steps to renew it.
Posts on the “Free Michael Q Todd” Facebook group reveal that some people have accused Todd and his friends of fraud. It seems that one person who donated money was shocked to discover that some of the information used to gather donations was false.
Paypal later dismissed the dispute and organizers refunded the $100 donation from the person who complained.
Fundraising organizer Jackie Bigford has repeated her claim that “legal fees are estimated to be in the range of $10,000.” If Todd is deported, the money will be used to pay for his travel expenses. The original fundraising page stated that extra money will go towards “saving the dolphins in Taiji, Japan.”
In a Facebook update this morning, a friend stated that he had hired a Japanese lawyer:
Then, later today, the same friend posted an update, claiming to have met Todd. His story has changed yet again! We are now told that Todd’s passport was stolen!
A passport story changing inconsistently when it comes under scrutiny… each time revised in a way that seems to make it harder for third parties to verify. That’s never a good sign. Hmmm… what does this remind us of?
If Todd’s was indeed caught without a valid landing stamp or visa and cannot provide a very very good excuse for overstaying, the likely outcome is deportation. I checked today’s prices online, and a plane ticket back to New Zealand on Japan Airlines would cost around 240,000 yen (about $3,000). The fundraising campaign has already raised over $4,000, so they have more than enough to pay for his airfare. One wonders what they’d do if they had the $10,000 they were seeking.
Other posts on the facebook group have mentioned Todd’s family situation. Apparently he has two children in Japan, each from a different Japanese ex-wife. He also has an ex-wife and children back in New Zealand. It is not clear how this will influence the immigration ruling.
I’ll end this post with a screen capture from one of the last posts on Michael Q Todd’s Instagram account. Todd thought it was hilarious that he’d been stopped by police after he blatantly ignored a “no photography” sign:
It’s very weird behavior for somebody who lacked proper ID or proof of a valid visa.
Update: Michael Q. Todd’s supporters have an odd way of reacting to questions about the confusing and contradictory information they have been providing about Todd’s arrest and visa status. They have restricted access to the “Free Michael Q. Todd” Facebook group, and are trying to stop “leaks” from reaching the public.
They also claim that Todd’s fiancée cannot provide information about the situation because some “wanker” at Japan Probe might blog about what she says:
They want to raise money from the general public, but they don’t want the general public to find out about information that might contradict the story they are using to raise funds?