NARITA TO HOUSE DETENTION CENTER

Ministry to speed up deportation of visa violators

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The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau is planning to build a short-term detention facility for visaless foreigners inside Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture, aiming to accelerate the deportation of visa violators, it was learned Friday.

The new facility, provisionally called a deportation center, will be created inside the compound of the nation’s largest international airport.

This will make it easier for those whose deportation procedures are under way to catch available flights, ministry officials said.

The ministry plans to request a budgetary allocation for the facility, which will likely accommodate between 300 and 350 people, in fiscal 2005.

Narita International Airport Corp., the operator of the airport, has agreed to offer a space for the facility, they said.

The ministry officials explained that detention facilities for visaless foreigners awaiting deportation are located too far from the airport at present.

Currently, a number of immigration workers are required to escort each foreigner from a remote center to the airport. Flights for deportees must therefore be arranged on weekdays, they said.

The planned new center will allow foreigners to wait at the airport for cancellations even if they do not have reservations, so that they can catch the earliest available flight back home, the ministry officials said.

Staffed by immigration workers for 24 hours, the facility will also make it possible for deportees to be transferred to the Narita facility during weekdays and catch flights on weekends.

The ministry subjected 45,910 foreigners, mainly those who had overstayed their visas, to deportation procedures last year, an increase of 3,975 people from the previous year.

These people are deported after obtaining documents to re-enter their home countries and flight tickets.

More than 70 percent of the deportees left Japan from Narita airport, the ministry officials said.