Feng Zhenghu: Tears Shared over the Phone

Feng Zhenghu: Tears Shared over the Phone

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 36. Read previous installments here.

December 8, 2009

Today is December 8, my 35th day camped at the doorstep to Japan.

This morning, I ignored the crowds of people in the immigration hall and managed to sleep in until 7:00 a.m. Survival is number one right now. I have to maintain a constant amount of sleep so that I’ll have enough energy to make it through the day.

The first thing I do after I get up every day is to rearrange my “bed.” I put away my bedding, update the number of days in Japan on my whiteboard, and put all my signs and other things related to my protest back to where they were. Only then do I go to bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth.

Breakfast was leftovers from yesterday’s dinner—half a pizza. The pizza was from Vancouver. Whatever toppings you choose, one slice costs $3.49 plus tax. Mine had sausage on it.

A follower on Twitter sent me a message to correct a mistake I had made. The flight attendant who gave me a Christmas card was from Air Canada, not China Airlines.

Yesterday a friend from San Francisco was going to visit and bring me a portable TV set and some other supplies. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find me, so he had to call me from the hotel afterwards to let me know. After seeing me on CNN, he thought that I was camped in the immigration hall, so he looked for me there. When he couldn’t find me he had no choice but to give up and enter Japan. Even though we didn’t get to see each other, I’m still grateful for his visit, because it really is the thought that counts.

Actually, I’m staying in the immigration control hall that he walked through. He just didn’t see me. The place where I have my interviews is right next to the immigration hall, so I when I’m on TV usually they mostly include shots of that part of the airport. A few reporters, however, have managed to sneak into the place where I’m camped out, and shoot some footage there as well.  

Right now, the inbox on my phone is full, so I won’t be able to receive any new messages until I delete some of the old texts or emails. To have so many moving text messages and emails and not be able to save them is really a shame. Not only that, but my Japanese cell phone isn’t able to display all Chinese characters correctly. I don’t have this problem with emails, though. So now that I can get online and receive emails, I’d like to ask all of my friends who want to send me texts or emails to send them to one of my email addresses:



Of course, if you only want to send short text message a couple of sentences long, then you can send those to my phone, since that’s faster and easier.

At 12:00 p.m., the on-duty head immigration officer delivered the sixth official letter, the content of which was the same as yesterday, with only the date changed, and took a picture with me. Our diplomatic exchange is becoming more and more standardized. I really think I’ve begun to master the formal etiquette of foreign affairs. As before, I will send out “Feng Zhenghu Presents the December 8 Official Letter (#6) from the Government of Japan to the Government of China” to online media outlets, with a picture of the letter attached.

In the afternoon, Mr. Huang Ben arrived from Taiwan on his way back to the U.S. and visited me again. We said goodbye at 2:00 p.m. and I went to be interviewed by NHK. As I walked into the interview area, the camera was already pointed at me. I knew this reporter from before. We’ve seen each other at several China research meetings held at Tiger Festivals [at the Japanese embassy]. Not only is he fluent in Chinese, but he was already familiar with the issues facing China today. Even though he was pointing a camera at me, we were able to chat like old friends. His questions were to the point, and my answers came without hesitation. I answered questions for a little over half an hour. His last question was what I planned to do after I returned home. “I will look after my mother,” I replied. “She’s already 90 years old.”

At 4:29 p.m. a Chinese man living in Japan called me to tell me that he had just seen my unfortunate story on TV, where he also learned that I had  spent three years wrongfully imprisoned for publishing a book. He was enraged to see such an outstanding Chinese person being attacked in this way. “Is China crazy?” he asked me. Although he’s lived in Japan for 20 years now, he didn’t care much about political issues in the past. But when he heard my tragic story he started crying, right there in his office. He told me that he was calling me to share his feelings and support. Even through the phone, I could tell that was choking up. I was so moved that my story could hurt him so deeply. When we say that men don’t cry, what we really mean is that they don’t get hurt easily. Truly, having experienced so many highs and lows in my life, I’ve probably already gotten used to it. It makes it easier for me to face life’s challenges with a smile on my face. I just need to work hard, to change this sad story into a happy one, so that people might find hope and joy after hearing it. [Chinese]

Translation by Nick.


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