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By Robert Seward

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (December 26, 1998 - Marianas Variety, PIDP/CPIS)---A Japanese national has sued the Marshall Islands for fraud in a "permanent residency" scheme to obtain a green card. The fraud is alleged to have been initiated by the Marshalls' embassy in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward.

Earlier this month, Yoshiaki Mizukami filed suit in the Marshall Island’s High Court seeking more than $145,000 in damages.

Mizukami charges that the Tokyo embassy received payments of $20,000 for passports and permanent resident visas but was "reporting false information regarding the amount of the revenues received to the [Japanese] Ministry of Finance." Embassy financial records from the green card residency scheme indicate only $6,000 was received by the government.

In addition to the money paid to the Tokyo embassy, Mizukami said he lost $36,690 as a result of the false claims of the Marshall Islands Embassy in Tokyo.

The complaint said that he repeatedly requested the government to refund the $20,000 he paid for the residency "green card" but the government refused.

Mizukami said he and his wife responded to an advertisement placed in Japanese newspapers in 1996 offering permanent residency status for a fee. He subsequently paid $20,000 into the bank account of the Embassy in Tokyo.

These days the Republic lists visa requirements on their Internet page. But Murakami and his wife traveled the 3,000 miles (4,800 km) and 11 hours flying time to Majuro for their first visit and only then did Mizukami discover that the residency program "did not exist, was unauthorized and was illegal."

The Murakamis returned to Japan, contacted the Marshall Islands Embassy and were told that the government would provide him with an agreement until the Nitijela (parliament) passed a law in January 1997 allowing for a "green card" and permanent residence by aliens.

The Nitijela never passed the promised legislation.

The Tokyo embassy provided Mizukami with an agreement signed by the Foreign Minister and Attorney General, but because the agreement itself indicated that it was illegal, Mizukami said he refused to sign it.

The complaint filed in Majuro, notes that "In March 1997, having failed to receive the promised ‘green card’ and not wishing to engage in any illegal activity, Mizukami requested the return of his $20,000 from the Embassy."

Despite repeated requests from Mizukami, the government has refused to return his money or reimburse him for expenses, said his Majuro attorney David Strauss.

Muzukami is seeking $36,690 in compensation for his investment and expense, and an additional $110,070 in punitive damages.

Compiled from the Marianas Variety (by Giff Johnson) and other sources

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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