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Japanese wine-growers saved from deportation from France

The wine harvest festival at Banyuls-sur-Mer
The wine harvest festival at Banyuls-sur-Mer Open access/Wikipedia/Palauenc05

A Japanese couple who run an award-winning vineyard in the south of France have won a stay of execution on their deportation from France after a huge campaign to support them.


Some 53,400 people signed a petition asking the authorities to allow Rie and Hirofumi Shoji to remain on their tiny estate in the south-western town of Banyuls-sur-mer after they were refused residency for earning too little money.

After studying wine-making, the couple started producing organic wines in 2016.

Their 2017 vintage won high praise and was ordered by high-end restaurants such as Michelin three-star Can Roca restaurant in the Spanish city of Girona.

But in April they were ordered to leave France after failing to prove they earned the minimum 2,000 euros a month required to show their business was viable.

This week the couple were granted residency permits for three more months at least.

Officials in the Pyrenées-Orientales region said they had decided to "reexamine the administrative status of Mr and Mrs Shoji", seeking more financial information on them.

Their lawyer, Jean Codognes, told the AFP news agency that in an "extremely polite" conversation on Thursday, the couple were asked why they were fans of wine and French culture.

"Because I worked for Alain Ducasse in Tokyo," Hirofumi Shoji replied, namedropping a French super-chef.


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