More set to be granted special resident status?

Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa hinted Tuesday he may be more inclined to reverse deportation orders for some people with improper visas who seek to stay in Japan.

Nozawa told a regular news conference that he will be more flexible in granting special resident status because “there are many people who wish to stay in Japan.”

Under immigration law, the granting of special resident status is left to the justice minister’s discretion.

Nozawa did not give any details on how he will change the decision-making process. He only said he will make decisions on a “case-by-case basis.”

The ministry on the same day posted on its Web site summaries of 26 cases in which people were given special resident status by the justice minister in fiscal 2003. It says it will use the cases as a guide for future decisions.

“By making (the 26 cases) public, we will be able to be transparent as to what kind of cases are approved,” he said.

According to the ministry, special resident status is granted for humanitarian reasons, sometimes when deportation would result in breaking up a family, but human rights groups have criticized the system, saying the criteria for special resident status are unclear.

Refugee status denied

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday dismissed an Afghan man’s plea for refugee status, overturning a lower court ruling that repealed a Justice Ministry decision to deny him this status.

“His claim that he was persecuted by the Taliban is not credible,” presiding Judge Toshimi Ouchi said in handing down the decision. “It appears he entered Japan to purchase used auto parts.”

The judge said the man, from an anti-Taliban Hazara ethnic group, probably began to claim he had been persecuted after he was unable to obtain a visa in Japan.

Lawyers representing the man said they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The central government had appealed a February ruling by the Tokyo District Court that the Justice Ministry was wrong to reject the man’s application for refugee status.