Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Baffling level of security at the Japanese Embassy

I had received my Certificate of Eligibility from Japan last week, which means whatever ministry in Japan has decided that I'm a good kid and fulfill whatever requirements to enter the country for work. So this morning, I made a quick run out to the Japanese Embassy which is nearby and was staggered by the level of security I encountered.

First of all, the compound is surrounded by a high brick wall with a heavy automatic gate across the lane and another heavy Iron gate for pedestrian access. Stepping up to the gate, you have to hit a button which I'm assuming buzzes reception. I was told to wait a few moments, which I did. A security guard then came to the gate, checked my ID, radioed in my name and then escorted me the 20 some yards to a door and directed me to the left. The interior was totally secured, no way to get anywhere but the Visa office which had a bulletproof glass and a small transaction slot. I dropped off my paperwork, went back outside and was promptly escorted off the grounds.

I find this quite interesting. I could understand such a level of security for the Israeli embassy or something but Japan??? Are they under some kind of threat I'm not aware of? I understand North Korea and China are concerns at the moment, maybe that's it?

I guess I've had limited embassy experience... I see some Israeli diplomats arriving some morning across the street where I get my coffee, surrounded by the requisite RCMP diplomatic service guards carrying automatic weapons under their trench coats.... but our office was on the same floor as the Mexican Embassy for the last few years and other than a buzzer for access, they don't have any of that... I've even ridden the elevator with their ambassador once or twice and she doesn't have any security at all...

Anyways, paperwork has been dropped off, should be ready next week when I get to head back in to the "Compound" and pick up my freshly stamped Passport.

We also found out yesterday that our IT Director who works out of Toronto but is in charge of our office had a serious accident this weekend while tubing. Seems she was pushed down a wrong trail or something and impacted with an inanimate object which was less than friendly to her. No air ambulance was available so they had a doctor sit in the ambulance with her for the ride from Bancroft to Toronto... Suffered some broken ribs, chipped vertebrae and a punctured lung... apparently she's doing better today, walking around and such... hope she has a speedy recovery.

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