Japan World Cup nightmare for Bermudian family
A family told last night how a dream holiday to Japan for the Rugby World Cup turned into a nightmare after immigration officials denied them entry.
Jayne and Justin Kendall and their sons, Tyler and Aiden, were held in “cells” overnight before they were marched on to a flight out of the country.
Mrs Kendall said they were thrown out of the country despite assurances from Japanese Embassy staff in the UK that the family, who have British Overseas Territories Citizen passports, did not need visas for their trip.
Tyler said from a hotel room in Canada yesterday: “It hasn’t sunk in yet.
“We are more relieved to be back in a country where we’re not being held in a prison cell.
“I think over a couple of days it will sink in — the costs, the time wasting and definitely a dream down the toilet as well.”
The 19-year-old started preparations for the trip last November when he bought himself and his younger brother tickets to see a Rugby World Cup semi-final match at the Yokohama stadium for this weekend.
He said: “My parents decided to come along as well so the plan was to go sightseeing around Japan for the week before the game, then, on the Saturday, my brother and I would go to watch the game.
“The World Cup only comes once every four years ... ever since I’ve wanted to watch one for myself. It was a goal to see it since then.”
Mr and Mrs Kendall, from Pembroke, along with Aiden, 14, planned to fly to Toronto to meet Tyler, who studies economics in Hamilton, Ontario, before flying to Los Angeles and on to Tokyo.
Mrs Kendall explained that she and her husband both contacted the Japanese Embassy in the UK last month and were told by different call handlers — based on the information they provided about the family’s Bermudian passports — that they did not need visas.
She said: “In our mind, we were told by the people who were doing the job that we did not need visas so we just didn’t even think about it again until we were about to board the Singapore Airlines flight in LA and they paged us.”
The 48-year-old explained that the family were called to speak to airline staff, who inquired about visas and asked to see their passports.
She said they “printed out a piece of paper that gave them comfort that we did not need visas, so they allowed us to get on the flight”.
But her family hit trouble when they tried to get through the routine arrivals checks in Japan, when four separate officers raised concerns about each of them.
Mrs Kendall said: “They took us into a little area where they told us that we needed visas.
“We explained everything to them and I showed them the photograph of the clause from Singapore Airlines and told them about the embassy of Japan statement.”
Language barriers presented further difficulties and the family was moved through various waiting rooms until they were taken into a “special cases” office where a translator was used to assist.
Mrs Kendall said that she provided information about their itinerary for the course of their planned trip, as well as details about her and her husband’s employment, salaries and the boys’ schools.
Tyler said: “It was definitely still our belief that we were going to get out of there and continue on the trip.
“The officer took a photocopy of the tickets, he seemed very understanding about our situation after we provided our return tickets.
“We totally thought that at the very least we would get something like a special circumstances visa.”
The family were returned to a holding room, where they were joined by three guards and after about four hours in total, the official in charge broke the news they would not be allowed into the country.
Tyler said: “He started to tell us that under the circumstances, with all the evidence we had provided, they unfortunately could not allow us into the country and we were going to be put on the next Singapore Airlines flight back to LA, which wasn’t until 7pm the next day.
“It was definitely shock, tears, anger — just disbelief.”
Mrs Kendall said: “By this time it was about 11.15pm, we tried to argue with them but it just kept going around in circles.
“They told us that we could appeal in three days but we would have to leave the country.
“They said they would detain us overnight.”
Each of the family was frisked and their luggage was searched as they cleared customs.
Mrs Kendall explained: “They said they would start with me to drop me off in the women’s section and that was the first time we heard that we were going to be separated.
“It was terrifying.”
She said: “They took my luggage, they made me lock my phone and my wallet in a locker, then they put me in a room where there were two other ladies already.
“They had beds and that’s all that was in there, there was a bathroom with a toilet and sink.
“They locked me in there for the night. They left a light on in the room so I could not sleep a wink.”
Tyler explained how the three men were taken to a “cell” for the night. He added: “We weren’t actually allowed to leave our holding cells until we were escorted the next day straight to our gate, so we were actually inside the holding cell from about midnight to 5pm the next day.”
Tyler said that about five guards escorted the family to the plane, but did not return their passports.
He added: “You feel naked without your passport when you’re travelling, they told us that the passports were being locked in the front of the plane and we would receive them when we landed in the US.”
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