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Video: Why Should We Block the Bill to Amend the Immigration Control Act of Japan? (Feb. 2021)

Posted on: 2021年 02月 14日


Why Should We Block the Bill to Amend the Immigration Control Act of Japan?

14 February 2021

M. Kashiwazaki, SYI (Shūyōsha Yūjin-yūshi Ichidō: Immigration Detainees’ Friends)


Video: Why Should We Block the Bill to Amend the Immigration Control Act of Japan? (Feb. 2021)_e0188516_15540884.jpg


Read the script in PDF

There are detention camps in Japan, namely, immigration detention facilities.
The government currently plans to amend the Immigration Act, in order to intensify the pressure on immigration detainees.

Please join the campaign against the amendments of Immigration Act.
I am M. Kashiwazaki, member of SYI, a group supporting immigration detainees.

Even though they are foreigners, immigration detainees are settled migrants, migrant workers, or refugees. They have various reasons and needs to stay in this country.
Is it fair to treat such people just as the target of expulsion, and deprive them of their freedom for years?

The Ministry of Justice proposes the amendments of the Immigration Act, which is said to solve the problem of long-term detention.
However, they will rather establish tighter control and produce more cases of abuse.


1. Criticism of Japan’s Immigration Detention Policy

According to the Immigration Services Agency, the amendments are required so that they can “screen those to be admitted and deported properly.” But they hardly considers why a deportation order is unacceptable for many.

One might have lived for many years in Japan, or have family there.
One might have been born in Japan, or have lived there since childhood.
One will probably be persecuted or killed if being deported.
One might have been heavily indebted in order to obtain visa to enter Japan.
One might have lost status of residence for an unfair or unacceptable reason.

These reasons are not considered in the deportation procedure in the most cases.

And this inhumane deportation policy is supported by long-term detention.

The word deportation might be suggestive of a scene in which, at the airport, officers take foreigners by the arms to the airplane.

In fact, however, more than 90 % of deportees leave Japan at their own expenses.
Many of them are the victims of long-term detention.
When they can no more stand endless detention, they accept deportation order.

In this regard, immigration detention is comparable with a torture.
In addition, this enables Japan to avoid violating non-refoulement rule of the Refugee Convention.

In a word, immigration detention serves as a tool for the enforcement of deportation.
This is probably the reason why the Immigration Services Agency never takes into consideration the proposal to set limits to the detention period.

Long-term detention harms people both mentally and physically.

Detention facilities can never eradicate sudden deaths, suicides, and hunger strikes of detainees. Last year, a hunger-striking detainee died out of hunger.

Medical neglect is also problematic. In some cases, it turned out too late that a detainee had had cancer, and then he or she was released immediately.

Detention also causes family separation. If a parent is detained, other family members will face great difficulty. It is not rare that a child is sent to child protection facilities due to parents’ detention.

Even if released from detention, one is granted no work permission, but excluded from
the most public services, including health insurance, civil registration, etc.

Japan’s immigration policy is criticized domestically as well as internationally.
In last September, UNHRC blasted Japan’s long-term detention.
Domestically, many bar associations criticize the proposed amendments.


2. Criticism of the Proposed Amendments of the Immigration Act

Despite the criticism, the government plans to establish tighter control.
The proposed amendments will never solve the long-term detention.

One proposition is to criminalize those who disobey a deportation order, and to send them to prison.
However, undocumented migrants and asylum seekers have been suffering from more and more lengthy detention and more and more frequent re-detention.
Criminalization will only cause more pain and produce more cases of abuse.


The second proposition is to introduce the exemption of non-refoulement rule.
They say this is because there are some who abuse asylum application.

But it should be first questioned whether Japan properly implements the Refugee Convention.
Japan admits only less than 1% of annual asylum applications. Even if summed with “special protection,” it admits less than 2%.
Japan protects refugees at the far lowest level.

There are refugee examination counselors, but they hardly function as a check.
It seems most of them are not well informed of refugees, but have prejudice.
It is reported that a counselor told to a refugee from RD Congo in the interview, “you might have been raped because you look beautiful.”

It is true that there are some applicants who are not actually refugees, but this should be explained in the context of Japan’s problematic way of admitting guest workers.

Currently, the large part of Asian guest workers are granted the status of “trainee” or “student,” which puts them in a very weak position at work.
They are likely to become victims of exploitation, harassment and abuse.
Since employers and schools have a decision on their residence period, their visa is easily taken.
However, they cannot return before they pay back the debt they had to owe to pay to brokers or schools. For some of them, asylum application is the last resort.

Thus, the fundamental problem is that the government supports exploitation of guest workers by admitting them as “trainees” or “students.”

Other propositions are to provide asylum seekers with “supplementary protection,” and to implement (a sort of) alternative to detention (ATD).

However, they never propose the revision of regularization, asylum examination, or the examination of provisional release, which have been run far too tightly.
This proposed ATD will be hardly of help without the revisions of them, because the most will sooner or later be ordered deportation after the examination.

And it is doubtful whether the number of “special protection” of asylum applicants will increase after it is renamed to “supplementary protection.”

In order to really prevent the long-term detention, it is required to revise the tight implementation of regularization; to set limits to the detention period; to abolish the “side-door” visa scheme of current immigration policy; and, to take refugee recognition away from the hands of Immigration Services Agency.

In a word, drastic reform is necessary.

What we have to do is not to “show mercy to poor foreigners,” but to build a good and inclusive society, where it is never tolerated to profit by the exploitation, abuse, and exclusion of immigrants, guest workers and refugees.

The proposed amendments absolutely contradict to this purpose.


3. Campaign against the Inhumane Amendments of the Immigration Act

We, the activists against immigration detention, organize a campaign against the amendments of the Immigration Act.
Please join us. Check the website.

On 17 February, we will have a demonstration at the Ministry of Justice.

In consideration of COVID-19 pandemic, we also welcome remote participation.
Have demonstrations in your neighborhood, or give voice on Twitter.

Let’s block the inhumane amendments of the Immigration Act.




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by p-dragon | 2021-02-14 14:00 | 入管収容・入管政策  

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