Trafficking victims to be given better treatment

As part of efforts to combat human trafficking, Japan plans to revise immigration legislation next year to exempt trafficking victims from being deported in the same way as foreigners who overstay their visas or illegally enter Japan, it was learned Friday.

The measure is included in a government plan to be approved Tuesday at a meeting of a liaison network of government entities involved in formulating steps to counter human trafficking, according to a draft obtained by Kyodo News.

The organizations involved include the Cabinet Secretariat and the justice and foreign ministries.

The upgraded measures to combat human trafficking follow a U.S. State Department report in June that downgraded its assessment of Japan’s efforts to fight the problem.

The decision to exempt human trafficking victims from customary deportation procedures was made in recognition of the fact that their passports are often taken away when they arrive.

As a measure to protect the victims, the government will be flexible in giving them special permission to stay in Japan for some time and will provide them with help by paying their airfares home.

In a related move, the government intends to limit the number of Filipino women entering Japan on entertainer visas starting in January as part of a new visa policy, government officials said. Many holders of entertainer visa are Filipinos. The visa category has been criticized for facilitating human trafficking.

According to the action plan, the government will submit the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law to the ordinary Diet session that starts in January.

The plan also stipulates that the government will “ensure the legal status of the victims” and establish better legal measures such as revising the Penal Code to create a new charge against human trafficking and ratifying an international protocol on combating the problem.

The plan also eyes revising the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses to prevent foreign women working in the industry from being forced into prostitution.

The government also plans to abolish a Justice Ministry provision that allows foreign entertainers officially certified in their home countries as musicians, singers and dancers to automatically receive entertainer visas.