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Fisheries Agency denies American fishing license

Date Posted: 2005-05-16

An antiquated law is blocking an American living in Ginowan from obtaining a commercial fishing license.

The Okinawa Prefecture Government rejected the manís application because he is not a Japanese citizen. The 48-year-old man has permanent resident status in Japan, and purchased the 11-ton boat for •6 million last November, and was set on a career as a fisherman.

One Japanese law permits foreigners with resident status to engage in commercial fishing in Japanese waters, but a decades old Fishing Vessels Law prohibits foreigners from owning vessels used for fishing. The Fisheries Agency says the law is fair, while the American denied his application calls it discrimination against foreigners.

An official says the law was created at a time when nobody expected foreigners to be commonly working in Japan, and engaging in fishing operations. Even local officials arenít fully familiar with the law, as theyíve provided misinformation on the case on several occasions.

A Fishing Agency representative offered his ready solution to the problem, encouraging the man to transfer title of the boat to his Japanese wife, whom he married in 1994, then use it as an operator. The American, a retired U.S. solder, has had permanent status for five years, working as a computer engineer before deciding on a fishing career.

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