KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim requires “special permission” to visit Japan due to his previous imprisonment in Malaysia, the Japanese embassy here said today.
An embassy official told The Malay Mail Online that under Japan’s laws, any individual who has had a prior conviction in Japan or any other country, and has been imprisoned for a year or more “shall be denied permission to land.”
“Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was allowed to enter Japan on two previous occasions, which is April 2011 and June 2012. This was because he had applied for special permission.
“This time, however, he did not do apply for special permission and was denied entry,” said the official.
Anwar, who is Malaysia’s opposition leader, was previously convicted for corruption and sodomy in 1999. Although the latter conviction was overturned, the former was upheld following appeal.
The official added that Anwar was informed of this by immigration officials the moment he landed at Narita international airport.
“This is the Japan government’s understanding, in accordance with Japan’s immigration control laws,” she said.
Wisma Putra has denied any involvement in Anwar’s inability to enter Tokyo, but suggested that Japanese authorities may have blocked the leader’s entry after finding him “undesirable”.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, when denying claims of Putrajaya’s involvement, told a press conference yesterday that it was “unthinkable” to blame the government for the episode.
“Every nation has a sovereign right to deny a person entry into the country if the immigration authorities deemed the person undesirable.
“In such a case, there is no obligation to explain why they (immigration authorities) are exercising this right,” he was quoted as saying by The Star Online.
According to the news portal, Anifah said the Japanese authorities had invoked Article 5 of its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to stop Anwar from entering Japan.
Anifah also denied submitting any “report” on Anwar to Japan to hinder the politician’s entry.
Anwar previously claimed that Japanese officials had cited a “latest report”, believed to be in 2013, as reason to deny his entry into Tokyo.
The Permatang Pauh MP was denied entry into Tokyo on Sunday and told to take the first flight home or face deportation, supposedly over the unknown “report” on the leader.
In a statement to record his protest upon his return to Kuala Lumpur, Anwar said he had arrived at Narita International Airport at 6.45am on Sunday morning from Kuala Lumpur but was stopped by Japanese immigration officials who told him to return home.
Anwar had said the authorities explained that he was not permitted into the country because of his previous corruption conviction in 1999, but the leader said this made little sense as he had entered Tokyo on three separate occasions in 2006, 2009 and 2012 without hindrance.