After he was denied re-entry to China eight times, Feng Zhenghu lived in Tokyo’s Narita Airport for 92 days in 2009-2010. Now Feng is telling the story of his airport odyssey on his blog, and CDT is translating his account. This is part ten. Read previous installments here.
November 12, 2009
This morning I was visited again by the head of the Narita branch of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Mr. Suzuki. He told me, “Yesterday, that Mr. Wang (Wang Jiarui) who you ran into here the other day (the afternoon of November 8) took an Air China flight out of Japan. He’ll report your situation to the Chinese government. That afternoon you met him, he was leading a delegation of over 20 CCP officials that came through here.”
I replied, “Thank you for telling me. I understand that it takes a long time for the Chinese government to deal with problems. It’s not likely my situation will be resolved very quickly.”
Suzuki said, “You’ve been here for nine days. Would it be possible for you to move to another location?”
“My issue with All Nippon Airlines hasn’t been resolved yet. As soon as they promise that they will take me back home, I’ll enter Japan. They were involved in my abduction—”
Suzuki cut me off mid-sentence. “I’m not here to discuss ANA. They have nothing to do with me. I’m here to ask if you could move.”
“I will not.”
Taking on a formal tone, Suzuki replied, “We officially request that you move.” After he said this, he left.
Japan is a society governed by rule of law. Without legal basis, the authorities cannot take forceful executive action. Mr. Suzuki was carrying out his administrative responsibility by delivering this message to me. But I was not acting in violation of Japanese law. I had every right to stay put. We could each go our own ways, neither troubling the other.
I heard that former Foreign Minister Wang Yi was going to lead a delegation to Japan in the coming days. Perhaps it was a request from the Chinese government, or perhaps the Japanese government was trying to do China a favor, but regardless, they hoped that Wang Yi and the high-level Chinese officials accompanying him would not witness my sad case with their own eyes. This image of me as an international petitioner had already caused some embarrassment to a delegation of CCP officials visiting Japan.
So many Chinese officials like to have their praises sung. In China, they enjoy many special privileges. But in Japan they are just the same as me. We are all Chinese, all visitors to Japan. We all had to pass through the same Japanese immigration point. At most, they’d be granted access to the diplomatic line as a courtesy (to skip the immigration form and the fingerprinting). When Chinese people meet in foreign countries, we have even more reason than usual to be nice to one another. If I were to see these officials, I would not try to get in their way. At most I’d say hello. By maintaining their dignity, I would maintain my own. We are all Chinese.
I was living in the immigration and inspections hall in the southern wing of Terminal 1 of Narita Airport. All ministerial foreign officials visiting Japan must pass through there. Government officials visiting Japan, including from China, would all witness my sit-in petition. Of course, heads of state fly in private planes, so they wouldn’t run into me. Outside this gate to the nation of Japan, I was enduring humiliation and hunger in order to awaken the Chinese government’s respect for human rights, and in hopes that every Chinese citizen would have the right to freely return home.
It is my right to not move from my seat. If these Chinese government and CCP officials dare not face the reality of this tragedy, then they’ll have to take a detour and enter Japan through the back door. Chinese officials should see with their own eyes the tragedy of a Chinese citizen not being able to return to his country. They will be moved by what they see. The humiliation of one Chinese person is their humiliation as well. For those who know shame, bravery is not far off. [Chinese]
Note: Wang Yi served as vice-minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2001-2004. He became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2013. He has also served as ambassador to Japan. Back.