Work visa violations result in participants from four countries being arrested, Japanese cosplayers still being held in custody.

Anime is one of Japan’s most popular cultural exports, and sometimes the energy of overseas fan communities is enough to even get Japanese otaku to travel abroad. That was the case last weekend, when a number of Japanese cosplayers planned to perform at Cosplay Festival 4, a cosplay event being held in Malaysia.

Scheduled festivities included stage shows, skits, and song and dance routines. However, on the first day of the event, March 23, there was a surprise appearance by the Malaysian Immigration Bureau, as officers raided the convention’s venue, the Sunway Putra Hotel in Kuala Lampur, and made a dozen arrests.

▼ Japanese media reports that some of the arrested Japanese cosplayers can be seen in the left photo.

Three Japanese men and two Japanese women were arrested, one of whom is currently a Malaysian resident and was also selling merchandise at the venue. Also swept up in the raid were three Singaporeans, two Thais, and one Hong Kong citizen, with a Malaysian organizer of the convention completing the list of a dozen arrested.

Kuala Lampur’s Immigraiton Director, Hamidi Adam, said that the authorities were acting on information they had received regarding the event, and questioned 52 people following the raid. The arrested cosplayers were found to be lacking appropriate work visas, which would be required for live performances at events like Cosplay Festival 4, and were instead only in possession of social visit passes, which did not cover the sort of stage performance activities that they were engaged in at the convention.

▼ Apparently Cosplay Festival 4 was still a pretty fun event as long as you weren’t personally getting arrested.

▼ This Japanese Twitter user who attended the event also enjoyed herself, and apparently had her immigration paperwork in order.

In addition to the visa violations, Adam says that Cosplay Festival 4 was operating without necessary authorization from Malaysia’s Central Agency Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artiste Unit (PUSPAL). Overall, the avalanche of legal woes was so severe that the event’s second day was cancelled entirely, with Cosplay Corner (the organization behind Cosplay Festival 4) releasing the following statement through its Facebook account.

According to the Japanese embassy in Malaysia, the Japanese cosplayers are still being held at an Immigration Bureau facility in the Kuala Lampur area. It’s a sad turn of events, and a reminder that as otaku conventions grow beyond their small-scale origins, they attract the attention of not only fans, but law enforcement as well, meaning organizers have to be as knowledgeable about legal requirements as they are about anime series.

Sources: Nitele News via Hachima Kiko, Tele Asa News, Alvinology
Featured image: Twitter/@erictan2918
Top image: Facebook/Cosplay Corner
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