An 82-year old Japanese woman who was left behind in the Philippines after World War Two has arrived in Japan. She is the first war-displaced descendant of Japanese migrants to travel to Japan after Manila waived fines that had been levied on such people for immigration violations.
Koyama Margarita Hiroko departed for Japan from Manila on Sunday. She was accompanied and assisted by staff of the Japanese Embassy and a support organization at the airport.
Koyama was separated from her Japanese father and left behind in the Philippines after the war. She was finally able to obtain Japanese citizenship in 2017.
But people like her were asked to pay fines by the Philippine government upon departure from the country because they were considered illegal residents. Koyama said that she was told to pay fines worth around 34,000 dollars.
Following negotiations with the Japanese Embassy officials, the Philippine government in July decided to waive fines on such people. They will effectively be freed from paying the fines if they can obtain a certificate issued by the Embassy, among other conditions.
Koyama says she plans to visit her father's grave in Japan. She says she never imagined she could actually visit Japan and does not know what she will say to her father, but she knows that she will cry.
Minister at the Japanese Embassy in Manila Hanada Takahiro, who was at the airport to see her depart, said the Japanese government will continue to do its best to make such travel to Japan as smooth as possible.