Fischer to receive Icelandic citizenship

by ChessBase
3/19/2005 – "Iceland has just got its tenth grandmaster – Robert James Fischer," rejoiced the RJF Committee. The country's parliament decided unanimously a few hours ago to grant Fischer Icelandic citizenship. Japanese authorities have confirmed that in such a case they would release the detained former world champion. Long read.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.



The Icelandic Althingi (national parliament) received a document, which we reproduce below, transcribing the discussions that took place during a meeting between Mizuho Fukushima, Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, and Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau, which is responsible for the fate of the detainee Fischer. In this meeting it was very clearly stated that

  • if the country would be offering to take in Fischer while recognizing him as one of their own citizens, then the Japanese authorities would of course allow him to go;

  • but, in the present case, what the Iceland government is offering is ultimately only a “foreign-citizen use passport”.

At the end of the session, as documented in the transcript below, Fukushima explicitly confirms that everything hinges on citizenship:

  • Mizuho Fukushima: If [Fischer] had citizenship in Iceland, would he be allowed to go?

  • Ministry of Justice Secretary: Yes, he could go.

Mizuho Fukushima immediately wrote a letter (reproduced below) to the Icelandic Althingi, enclosing the transcript of the meeting. Based on this the Icelandic Parliament Committee, which deals with citizenships, decided unanimously on Friday evening to recommend that RJF will be granted an Icelandic citizenship. It is expected that a special bill will be passed by Althingi on Monday, March 21st, granting Fischer citizenship. This means that Bobby Fischer could next week be released from detention in Japan and could travel to Iceland and freely around the world.

A new Icelandic delegation will travel to Japan next week to escort him to Iceland. Iceland has an extradition treaty with the US.

Documents provided below

News links

In the meantime the The RJF Committee has handed the following letter to the Japanese Ambassador to Iceland:

to the Japanese Authorities

Reykjavík, 15th of March 2005

HE Ms Fumiko Saiga
Japanese Ambassador to Iceland
c/o Chargé d´Affaires a.i: Mr. Hioshi Abe
Laugarvegur 182,
105 Reykjavík.

As we refer to our letter to your Embassy of the 15th of December 2004 on the fate of Mr. Robert James Fischer, we now feel ourselves obliged to express our deepest dismay and sorrow of The Japanese Authorities grotesque violation of his human rights and of international law. Referring to the conversation we had with Mr. Abe that day, where your embassy convinced us that this was nothing but a simple matter of an invalid passport, we must point out the following:

Mr. Fischer is now being held prisoner in Japan for more than 9 months on no grounds whatsoever, despite the fact that he has an valid Icelandic passport, a flight ticket booked out of Japan and an Icelandic residency. His continued detention in Japan constitutes a gross violation of human rights.

As we protest the stongest possible terms against your handling of this matter, we request an immediate release of Mr. Robert James Fischer.


On behalf of
The RJF Committee – Iceland.
Einar S. Einarsson
Helgi Olafsson
Gardar Sverrisson

Members of the FJF Committee G. Sverrisson; GM H. Olafsson; E.S. Einarsson,
with the Japanese Chargé d´Affaires Mr. Hioshi Abe, at the Japanese Embassy

Letter from the Leader of the Japanese Social Democratic Party

From Mizuho Fukushima
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Member of House of Councillors
March 18, 2005

Dear Members of the Icelandic Althingi,

Respectful greetings from Japan.

I am sending you this message in order to try to resolve the issue of the extended detention of Mr. Robert "Bobby" James Fischer in Japan, met with the head of our Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau, Mr. Masaharu Miura, on Wednesday, March 16.

Please find attached below the certified text of our discussion, which I have carefully checked and can verify as being a true transcript of our discussion. My consultation with Mr. Miura in my capacity as a member of the House of Councilors is a privilege of my office in the parliament and you may report the contents of our discussion freely.

Sincerely extending my best regards,
Mizuho Fukushima

Transcript of meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Questions and answers on the case of former world chess champion, Bobby Fischer

Representation to:
Masaharu Miura, Bureau Chief, Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau,
Ministry of Justice, 9th Floor, Tokyo, Japan

Representation by:
Mizuho Fukushima, House of Councilors Member
Leader of the Social Democratic Party

Mizuho Fukushima: With regard to the deportation of Bobby Fischer back to America, this time another country, Iceland, has come forward and offered to take him in. He has his ticket; therefore surely he must be allowed to leave Japan. The fact that he isn’t being allowed to is incomprehensible, and I believe this is sort of thing is unprecedented. I’ve come today to implore you to allow him to leave Japan.

Masaharu Miura: Permitting deportation to a third country is a most exceptional step. Article 53, Subsection 2 of the Immigration Bureau code clearly states the exceptional nature of such a thing, declaring that “in cases where it is not possible to deport persons to the previously stated country…”. In this case, Bobby Fischer has American nationality, and there is no obstacle to his being taken in by the US. In other words, he can only be deported to the US. In the case of a Mandate Refugee, only in cases where it is deemed inappropriate or unsuitable to return persons to their home country is deportation elsewhere permitted.

Mizuho Fukushima: In that case [of Kazan Kiran, a Kurdish Turk], why did you return him to his home country?

Masaharu Miura: In that case, the courts decided that is what would happen, so it couldn’t be helped. Only in cases where Article 53, Subsection 3 is nonviable do we look at Subsection 2. We are really talking about war-torn nations when we refer to countries to which it would be unsuitable for the deported person to return. That doesn’t apply here [in Bobby Fischer’s case].

Mizuho Fukushima: Have there been cases in the past where the deported person has expressed his desire to be sent to a country that is not his home country, but a country that has given its permission and to which the deported person has been allowed to go?

Masaharu Miura: There was a similar question asked yesterday in parliament. I can’t answer right away, but there have been cases in which countries have given their permission and persons have been confirmed as Mandate Refugees. There have also been cases in which a country has accepted a refugee midway through his/her trial and they have bonded with [their] family. However, these cases have been due to exceptional circumstances, and in these cases civil law has been correctly applied. In Bobby Fischer’s case, however, we only have Fischer saying he doesn’t want to go back to America, despite the fact that America is peerless as a democratic country, so in this case the only thing to do is have Fischer return to the US.

Mizuho Fukushima: So, it is the case that you can be flexible to a certain extent with your application of Article 53, and regarding where to send Fischer, if another country is offering to take him in. That being the case, why can’t he go?

Masaharu Miura: For example, if the country in question is offering to take him in while recognizing Fischer as one of their own citizens, it falls within the scope of Article 53, Subsection 1, and of course we would allow him to go. However, in this case, what the Iceland government offering is ultimately only a “foreign-citizen use passport”, it does not come under the scope of that article.

Mizuho Fukushima: However, right now no progress is being made. Why are things just hanging suspended in midair?

Masaharu Miura: Because the trial concerning the dismissal of Fischer’s deportation order is midway through.

Mizuho Fukushima: Setting aside for the moment the question of whether he qualifies as a Mandate Refugee, I would have thought that the viewpoint of the Japanese government would be that they would “go with Subsection 1”. If that’s the case, how does that bear on that other case (in spite of the fact that Mandate Refugee status was confirmed, without finding another country to which to deport him, Kazan Kiran was deported to his country of birth)?

Masaharu Miura: In that case, we had to decide whether to follow Japanese law or the United Nations, and in such cases Japan can only follow Japanese criminal law.

Mizuho Fukushima: That’s not what I mean. I didn’t come here this time to talk about that case. Rather, I’m talking about the application of Subsections 1 and 2. The Ministry of Justice objection/statement was that at that time the UNHCR had not found any other destination country, even though it was expected that they would. Even though that was the anticipated objection, why, in this case, can’t we use Subsection 2 with regards to Mr. Fischer?

Masaharu Miura: In Kazan Kiran’s case, according to the judgment of the UN, there was a refugee mandate, and that was one important factor.

Mizuho Fukushima: However, in this case too, the state of Iceland has said that it will take in Fischer. Surely that is also an important factor?

Masaharu Miura: If we’re only talking about Fischer’s wishes, that’s a pretty weak basis.

Mizuho Fukushima: Have there been any other cases in which even though another country made an offer and the deportee wanted to go, it was not permitted?

Masaharu Miura: To my knowledge, there has not been any such case. In our judgment, this case does not qualify as that of a Mandate Refugee, which applies to cases in which there are some circumstances preventing the deportee from returning to their own country. In this case, he can return home, there is no obstacle to that, and yet he still will not go, and the processing of his deportation order goes on without end, which is unacceptable. Bearing that in mind as well, we’re in the middle of his trial now, and can expect to receive a verdict based on the law. There is also the exceptional provision provided into Subsection 3, which is considered the greatest limit.

Mizuho Fukushima: Have you spoken with the Embassy of Iceland?

Masaharu Miura: No, I have not.

Mizuho Fukushima: Are you playing for time until a Grand Jury is convened in America on April 5?

Masaharu Miura: No, that is not the case.

Mizuho Fukushima: Fischer may not strictly speaking be a refugee under established refugee laws, but I imagine that bearing in mind what could happen if he returns to America, Iceland has made a commitment. I’d like you to look at and think about this from the perspective of the rest of the world. If a lawyer were to file a suspension order, would Fischer be allowed to go to Iceland?

Masaharu Miura: The important principle here is that he returns to the country in which he holds nationality. I really can’t feel that his simply saying he doesn’t want to go back to America is sufficient.

Ministry of Justice Secretary: [also present]: Not forgetting that America has issued a warrant for Fischer’s arrest…

Regarding the question of tax evasion and prize money won in Yugoslavia…

Mizuho Fukushima: I have heard that with regard to the matter of his passport expiring, Fischer did not receive any notification (Fischer’s passport was reissued in 1997 and was due to expire in 2007 when it was unilaterally cut short by the US government. Fischer was not informed of this fact and only found out when he tried to leave Japan for the Philippines in July 2004 and was incarcerated at Narita Airport).

Ministry of Justice Secretary: Wasn’t that just a simple case of crossed wires that came about during processing?

Masaharu Miura: In the case of totally lawless states, refugee status might be considered, but in this case, we’re talking about America.

Mizuho Fukushima: What about the political circumstances from the Cold War and so on? This suspicion of tax evasion only came out afterwards, which strikes me as strange. Without Japan saying confused things, I think it would be better for America and Iceland to sort this out among themselves.

Masaharu Miura: I have no knowledge of what sort of exchange is taking place between those two countries.

Mizuho Fukushima: It’s just a question of Japan letting Fischer leave this country. Why can’t he go to a country other than America?

Masaharu Miura: Because the Immigration Bureau hasn’t adopted that sort of system.

Ministry of Justice Secretary: Setting aside other countries, it is America we’re talking about. Even if we somewhat expand the scope of Article 53 Subsection 1, we still need to be thorough in our interpretation of the text. Broadly speaking, regarding those who cannot be thought of as refugees, a flexible application of Subsection 2 is not easy.

Mizuho Fukushima: If you consider this from a humanistic, human perspective, a flexible interpretation of Subsection 2 must be applied.

Ministry of Justice Secretary: If we were talking about an application for citizenship or something like that, then the situation would be different again…

Mizuho Fukushima: If he had citizenship in Iceland, would he be allowed to go?

Ministry of Justice Secretary: Yes, he could go.

Masaharu Miura: That’s the legal interpretation.

Mizuho Fukushima: For Europeans looking at this case, Japan must appear to be an incomprehensible country. I now ask you to take the appropriate steps to properly conclude this matter.

End of meeting

Reference Copy of Japanese Law Article: Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Destinations of Deportees)

Article 53.

Any person subject to deportation shall be deported to a country of which he is a national or citizen. If a person cannot be deported to such a country as provided for in the preceding paragraph, such a person shall be deported to one of the following countries according to his desire:

(1) A country in which he had been residing immediately prior to his entry into Japan;

(2) A country in which he has resided once before his entry into Japan;

(3) A country to which the port, where he boarded a vessel, etc. departing for Japan, belongs;

(4) A country where his place of birth is located;

(5) A country to which his birthplace had belonged at the time of his birth;

(6) Any country other than those mentioned in the preceding items.

Except for cases where the Minister of Justice finds it considerably detrimental to the interests and security of Japan, the countries provided for in the preceding two paragraphs shall not include the territories of countries stipulated in the Refugee Convention, Article 33, Paragraph 1.

The following letter was written by Gardar Sverrisson, a political scientist,
and was published in the Icelandic daily Morgunbladid.

To the American Ambassador – Second Request

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

For three months you have delayed in providing an answer to the simple question of who, other than Bobby Fischer, has been indicted for violating the so-called economic sanctions against the countries formerly known as Yugoslavia. After the media’s unveiling, former President Bill Clinton has been unable to do otherwise than to admit your government’s violation of those same sanctions.

But as you know, the violations of the United States government did not involve playing chess. The US government’s violations involved paving the way for arms shipments to the very battlefields of the bloody war being fought in that country. Even if there were no other reason to call the proceedings a travesty, it is abundantly clear that any trial held over the act of playing chess would instantly dissolve into pure farce, as Fischer’s inevitable companions at the defendants’ table would be former US cabinet members.

You must surely be able to explain why it can be considered a more serious violation of economic sanctions to play chess in full view of the entire world than to engage in the clandestine shipment of arms. If that is too much to ask, then as a minimum, it must be possible for you to provide information on why 8 months have proven insufficient time for your administration to show – much less, to prove – that Fischer’s passport was revoked in a normal and lawful manner. You can hardly expect us to believe that the man can be held like an animal in a cage for 8 months without there being a sensible explanation of such a crucial aspect of the case.

Instead of demonstrating genuine diplomacy and answering honestly, you made it a priority to meet with Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to express your disapprobation that a free and independent nation should have the audacity to offer an old friend a residence permit. Looking back, it is obvious that the minister should have taken you seriously to task for such inappropriate interference in Iceland’s domestic affairs. But very likely it caught him entirely off guard that you had actually come to meet with him on such an unworthy errand.

Now that Bobby Fischer has spent 8 months in a Japanese dungeon, the latest news is that your administration has given up on its original tack of pursuing him on the previously stated grounds for his arrest; the new twist is that they intend instead to create a new and totally unrelated claim against him: a tax-related case that they are hoping to be able to present in court on April 5 of this year. In order to camouflage the blatant abuse of judicial procedure already committed, they have decided to dig up old tax returns in the hope of using them to ruin the life a man who is best known for having, through his accomplishments, given millions of young people immeasurable satisfaction and kept them away from the corrosive effects of life on the streets.

We recognize the tactics. How many people’s lives did you ruin with just these techniques during the government-driven persecution campaign that you later chose to hang on a single drunken senator? You saw a communist in virtually every thinking individual during that debacle. And now it’s Cold War hero Bobby Fischer who is threatening world peace by no longer professing doctrinally correct opinions on your administrative policies and activities, and the ensuing nightmare is characterized by a vindictiveness and a prison camp mentality that are unparalleled in Western history since the time of World War II.

Honorable Mr. Ambassador. If you should be tempted to assert that this case is being driven forward by respect for the law, it would not be inappropriate for you to tell us how many American heroes have been in exile for 13 years for their art – how many of them have been unable even to attend the funerals of their nearest, and only, relatives.

It would be worth the trouble if you told us how common it is that your countrymen are held in cages for 8 months without the government’s being able to show that their arrest and suffering are based on normal and lawful grounds. And finally, it is unavoidable that you inform us how common it has become once again that American government officials hop from one point of defense to another instead of sticking fast to their formally presented reasons for arresting a man and depriving him of his freedom.

For three months, Bobby Fischer’s supporters have awaited answers to these questions. Instead of providing those answers, you have wielded your pen to extol the excellence of your own government; indeed, you have been eloquent in the service of that goal. But as long as you choose to remain silent on the subject of the way your government has treated Bobby Fischer, it is hardly possible to draw any conclusion other than that you actually agree with us when we maintain that this treatment represents an inhumane attack on a fellow human being.

With your silence, you have actually said more, and spoken more clearly, than can be done through diplomatic address. For that, at least, we must thank you and the American authorities.

Gardar Sverrisson

Previous ChessBase articles

Playing the Al Capone Gambit against Fischer
15.03.2005 It's a strategy that worked well on leading mob figures: if you can't get them, let the IRS do the job. Former world champions Fischer was initially detained in Japan because of invalid travel document, then we were told it was for breaking sanctions in 1992. Now it looks like the US government will use tax evasion and money laundering to bring him down. Reports and video.

Bobby Fischer: five days in solitary confinement
08.03.2005 We had just reported about Fischer's new passport, which an Icelandic delegation had carried to Japan. A minor mystery was why it had not been handed over to him last Wednesday, as planned. Now we learn that Japanese authorities had put the former world champion into solitary confinement. For five days. Over a hard-boiled egg. We are not joking.

Fischer's passport – to freedom?
08.03.2005 March 9th is Bobby Fischer's 62nd birthday. By chance a very special gift has arrived in Japan for the former world champion: an Icelandic passport with which he may be able to travel to freedom after more than six months in a Japanese detention facility. We have exclusive pictures of the new passport.

Fischer receives an Icelandic passport
2/23/2005 Immigration authorities in Iceland have decided to issue full travel documents for former world champion Bobby Fischer, who is being held in Japanese detention for not possessing a valid passport. Fischer's new passport will be sent to Japan by diplomatic mail, and a delegation is traveling there to escort him to Iceland.
Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki speaks out
02.02.2005 Is Japan buckling under pressure by the US? Bobby Fischer, 61, former World Champion of Chess who has been jailed in Japan for six months now, is applying for Icelandic citizenship. But Tokyo seems to be balking at a constructive solution entailing his release to Iceland. Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki has given us an exclusive interview.

Bobby Fischer applies for Icelandic Citizenship
25.01.2005 After the Japanese authorities last week refused Fischer's request to be extradited to Iceland the chess legend, who is being held in a Japanese detention facility, has today written to the President of the Icelandic Althingi (picture), applying for Icelandic citizenship. A special law would have to be passed to grant Fischer's request.

Bobby Fischer – immigration plans on ice
22.01.2005 His supporters filed a petition that Fischer might be released from detention in a Tokyo jail and allowed to travel to Iceland, where he has been granted refuge. But Japanese Justice Ministry lawyers said they were not prepared to change Fischer's deportation destination to Iceland, and that he would have to remain in detention. A harsh blow for the chess legend.

Bobby Fischer – six months in jail
1/17/2005 On July 13, 2004 he was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo, for attempting to leave the country on an invalidated. Since then the greatest hero of Western chess has been languishing in a Japanese detention facility, now physically exhausted and suffering from dizzy spells. His Icelandic friends, who are offering him refuge, have launched another appeal to the authorities.

US threatens Iceland, Fischer Committee appeals
22.12.2004 Iceland is under US pressure to drop plans to offer a home to fugitive former chess champion Bobby Fischer, the Reuters news agency tells us. But the Icelandic government has stated that its offer "will not be withdrawn despite pressure from the United States." How do we know that? Among other things we read it in Aljazeera, would you believe? Here's the latest on this international confrontation.

RJF Committee mobilizes pro-Fischer forces
18.12.2004 While Bobby Fischer remains incarcerated in a Japanese prison a special committee in Iceland is moving to get him free and find him a home on the North-Atlantic island country. Iceland's foreign minister and a prominent political scientist have spoken out. Here's a report on Fischer's Iceland Connection...
Fischer to get refuge in Iceland?
12/16/2004 The news today on Bobby Fischer, who is currently being held in a Japanese detention facilities pending extradition to the US, is that the Icelandic government has offered to grant him a residence permit. In a telephone interview Fischer speaks about his plight in Japan and reacts to statements by Garry Kasparov on Fischer Random Chess. Full details...
Returning to the 'scene of the crime'
30.11.2004 Twelve years ago Boris Spassky played a match against Bobby Fischer in Yugoslavia. That got Fischer into a lot of trouble, while for Spassky, a French citizen, there were no repercussions. Now the tenth world champion returned to Belgrade to open the Belgrade Chess Trophy. Quick interview...
Fischer to Bush and Koizumi: 'You are going to pay for this!'
18.10.2004 Bobby Fischer, still in detention in Japan, has spoken out again in an interview, this time threatening the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and US President Bush: "You are going to pay for this, and you are going to pay for your crimes in Iraq too." His new lawyer, Richard J. Vattuone, plans to release documents to prove US government involvement in a plot against Fischer.
'We want to live together forever'
01.09.2004 She collected pictures of her chess hero after his match with Boris Spassky in 1972. One year later they met in Tokyo – the start of a romance spanning decades. Since four years the two have lived together in downtown Kamata in Tokyo's Ota Ward. In an exclusive interview for ChessBase Miyoko Watai tells us the story of her life with Bobby Fischer.
Listen to Bobby Fischer
26.08.2004 In emotional phone calls from his detention cell in Tokyo ex world champion Bobby Fischer gave a Philippine radio station two lengthy interviews. Fischer is facing deportation and incarceration in the US, and voices his nightmare fears: "I will be tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned, tortured and murdered." We have summary transcripts and audio files.
Dramatic moments around Fischer's deportation
25.08.2004 First the Japanese Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa issued a deportation order against former world champion Bobby Fischer's, then Fischer's lawyers filed a lightning appeal on the grounds that physical deportation would be a flagrant violation of Fischer's right to full legal recourse and protection under Japanese law. Here's the full story by Fischer's legal coordinator.
'Bobby Fischer and I have decided to marry'
17.08.2004 Bobby Fischer, the former world chess champion, plans to marry the president of the Japan Chess Association (and four-time Japanese women's champion) Miyoko Watai. This was reported in newspapers and wire services last night. Now Watai-san has sent us a statement explaining the background of her personal relationship with Fischer.
Fischer renounces US citizenship
15.08.2004 Bobby Fischer has been moved to a new detention facility in Tokyo, pending a decision on his deportation to the US, where he faces a 10-year jail sentence. A lot of new material has surfaced, including Fischer's handwritten renouncement of his US citizenship and a blow-by-blow description and picture of his arrest at Narita Airport. Harrowing stuff...
Spassky to Bush: Arrest me!
10.08.2004 Boris Spassky, who played the contentious return match against Bobby Fischer in Yugoslavia 1992, for which the latter is currently facing deportation and incarceration in the US, has appealed to President Bush to show mercy and charity for his tormented successor. If for some reason that should be impossible, Spassky suggests a very imaginative alternative...
Fischer's appeal rejected
28.07.2004 Bobby Fischer's appeal against his deportation was rejected today by Japanese authorities. Meanwhile the Icelandic Chess Federation has appealed to US president Bush to pardon Fischer and set up a petition web site to collect signatures. In Tokyo a "Free Fischer Press Conference" is scheduled for Thursday. More...
Fischer a sacrificial pawn?
25.07.2004 Bobby Fischer is still in detention at Narita Airport in Tokyo, traumatised but stubborn, "behaving like a Samurai". At the same time news outlets all over the world are covering the story, with Fischer's brother-in-law Russell Targ assailing the Bush administration for playing election year politics with the former chess champion's freedom. There's a lot to be read...
Game of Life: Kasparov on Fischer – in full
20.07.2004 The news of Fischer's arrest in Japan came as a shock to Garry Kasparov, who was in a holiday camp working intensely on the games of his greatest American predecessor. In today's issue of The Wall Street Journal Kasparov assesses Fischer's chess career – for a public that was being exposed to his current situation. We now bring you Kasparov's full article.
Will Fischer be extradited?
19.07.2004 Chess legend Bobby Fischer, the hero of millions, languishes in the detention facilities of Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting for a decision by Japanese Immigration authorities on his deportation to the US. We have collected all the documents and reconstructed a timeline to his arrest. Fischer, who has no legal counsel, is appealing for international assistance.
Bobby Fischer detained in Japan (updated)
16.07.2004 It's the latest twist in the sad tale of American former world champion Bobby Fischer. He has been detained in Japan and faces possible deportation to the US to face charges for playing in Yugoslavia in 1992. Fischer's website says he was "very nearly killed" in Japan. The story has been picked up by news services all over the world.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register