Aussie deported from Japan after being mistaken for activist
A GOLD Coast school grounds keeper wants to know why he was locked up and deported from Japan after authorities mistakenly believed he was the former boss of Greenpeace.
Peter Mullins flew into Tokyo last Tuesday for the start of a two-month stay with a friend. He says he was questioned by immigration officials for four hours and locked up for a day without food or contact with the Australian Embassy.
He claims authorities at Narita International Airport produced a "four-inch thick" dossier and accused him of trying to "disrupt a whaling conference". Mr Mullins says was also charged 270,000 Yen (A$350) for his incarceration and tossed on to a flight back to the Gold Coast.
Customs officials believed he was Peter Mullins, the former CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. However, both men have different middle names and birthdays. They do not even look the same.
The Bulletin contacted Mr Mullins, the former Greenpeace boss, yesterday. He said he had never been to Japan or been in trouble with customs officials in any other country.
The Gold Coast's Mr Mullins said the whole sorry episode has left him thousands of dollars out of pocket and without his holiday.
"They kept telling me I was a member of Greenpeace even though I have had no association with the organisation in my whole life," the Miami man said.
"I have never been arrested or deported in any environmental protests either.
"But they told me I was definitely in Japan to disrupt the whaling conference. I was just there to see a friend. No matter what I said they kept going back to that fact.
"I was locked up with three guys. The embassy was not informed and I was refused access to my phone.
"I was told if I refused to pay they would physically take the funds from me.
"I was in complete shock. I have never overstayed a visa anywhere in the world. I was just going for a vacation to enjoy the food and culture."
The deportation notice handed to Mr Mullins does not detail the reason for his expulsion. It was signed by the Narita Airport District Immigration Office on May 22, 2019.
"You are not eligible to enter Japan and must depart immediately," it read.
Mr Mullins arrived back on the Gold Coast on a Jetstar flight last Thursday and hoped to claim some of his holiday on travel insurance.
"I will never return to Japan," he said.
The other Mr Mullins, who is now farming and living in country NSW, said he was disappointed for his namesake.
"I am sorry we share the same name for that," he said.
"For the rest of us, it is almost hilarious to think that the Japanese records are so out of date and the reaction to his arrival is a mark of their continuing sensitivity on whaling.
"Their treatment backfired enormously. Japan keeps wanting the issue of whaling to die down but their actions keep putting it back in the spotlight.
"I will be certainly be double checking my visa next time I travel."
He served as the head of Greenpeace from 2000-2005. Other leadership roles included CEO of RSPCA Australia and board chair of Wolf Minerals.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not comment on the Narita International Airport incident, but said it stood ready to offer consular assistance to any citizen should they request it.
According to the department charter, it cannot intervene in immigration matters in other countries and possession of a valid visa is not an entitlement to enter a country.
The Japanese Embassy did not reply to Bulletin questions.