558 minors held at immigration centers

Of the foreigners held in Immigration Bureau detention centers pending deportation for staying illegally in Japan, 558 were minors — 300 boys and 258 girls, the government said Friday.

The government released the information in a written response to a query by House of Councilors member Mizuho Fukushima of the Social Democratic Party.

Fukushima called on the government to comply with a United Nations convention on the protection of juveniles’ rights, saying, “Arrests and confinements should be the last steps, and such confinements should last an appropriately short time.”

The government, however, says it “accommodates” minors in the detention centers and does not consider their cases to be instances of arrest or confinement.

It also said the authorities temporarily release some of the children in consideration of their age and health.

According to the government, about half of the children spent less than 10 days in the centers, while the figure for those staying more than 100 days was 42.

Those who stayed for more than 10 days and less than 50 days numbered 162, while 77 spent between 51 and 99 days in such centers, it said.

According to the government, 379 of the minors were between the ages of 15 and 19 at the time of arrest, while 104 were under 5. There were 40 between 5 years old and 9 years old, and 35 from 10 to 14.

By nationality, Chinese minors were detained in the largest numbers, totaling 285 children, followed by 84 from the Philippines and 69 South Koreans, the government said.

The centers have a policy of gender separation, which separates boys from their mothers and girls from their fathers at night. Some exceptions are made when there is a need for the parent’s protection or care, according to the document.

The children may stay in the same room as their parents during the daytime, but are not allowed to mingle with other detained adults, it said.