Homeless 72-year-old Japanese man to return home from Sabah

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 22 Mar 2017

KOTA KINABALU: A 72-year-old Japanese man who has been living on the streets here for two decades is set to return home on Wednesday.

"It is time for me to go back to Japan. I sometimes feel I want to stay back as I don’t know what to expect there. I know the time has for me to go home,” said Kaoru Tanaguchi (pic).

He is expected to board a midnight flight to Tokyo, where social workers are expected to care for him on his arrival.

Tanaguchi has been living as an illegal immigrant in Sabah after a series of misfortunes struck him and drove him to the streets of the city here in 1996.

The cook from Fukuoka originally came to Sabah in 1985 on a business venture to work with a rattan company here, but the business collapsed 10 years later.

Further business ventures depleted his savings, and he soon became an illegal immigrant in Sabah when he overstayed his pass in 1987

Tanaguchi's problems were compounded when his passport was stolen, and a fire in his room wiped out all his personal documents including contacts in Japan that saw him lose all hopes of getting back to Japan or resolving his illegal stay in Sabah.

His case ultimately came to light when two kind-hearted people - Elizabeth Chin and Rizza Lim - met him at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and assisted the bachelor who just wanted to go home to Japan.

The Star wrote about his problems and Japanese social workers also responded to assist and eventually in February this year, officials from the Japanese consulate in Kota Kinabalu helped him sort out his documents and immigration issues.

“I am very thankful to the immigration officers for being very understanding on my problems and my Japanese government for helping me to go home,” he said when met a house in Kg Likas here where is staying.

He has been surviving by doing odd jobs – from carpentry to repairing electrical appliances – with some people paying him a minimal sum or just giving him food for the job done while he put up with migrant families in Kg Likas.

“Many people have helped me. I am thankful to all of them,” said Taniguchi, who communicates in Malay well.


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