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Protest at immigration office seeks to thwart ministry's planned mass-deportation flights

Visa violators stage sit-in to stay

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

People living in Japan on expired visas kicked off a five-day sit-in Monday in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau to protest plans to deport overstaying immigrants en masse on chartered planes this fiscal year.

Reportedly as part of ways to reduce the budget for dealing with overstayers, the Justice Ministry plan would give the boot to about 350 people annually, compared with an annual average of around 150 in preceding years.

Of 62,009 visa overstayers, 3,030 had received deportation orders as of Jan. 1, a ministry report said.

Spearheading the sit-in is the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a nongovernmental group established in 1987 to encourage cross-cultural communications between Japanese and foreign residents. About 50 people attended the protest at the bureau in Minato Ward, some with family members.

Chief organizer Jotaro Kato said at a press conference that many overstayers face enormous uncertainty over their futures because pleas made long ago for special permission to reside in Japan have gone unanswered.

Their financial plight has worsened with Japan’s prolonged economic slump, prompting APFS to stand up and raise public awareness of the overstayers’ plight and show how “desperate they are to get visas.”

Iranian Majid Abbasi, 45, said he hopes their voices will be heard and strike a chord with top government officials.

“We have encountered numerous problems in our life. . . . But above all, the harshest reality is that we have no idea what’s going to happen to us tomorrow,” Abbasi said, expressing grave concern over the well-being of his daughter, 12, who was born in Japan and doesn’t understand her father’s native language. She was deemed a visa violator at birth. Her Filipino mother is also an overstayer.

“I have lived in Japan for about 20 years now. So please stop to lend your ears to what we have to say,” Abbasi said.

Schoolgirl Jezreelann Balbliend, 10, said every Christmas she has asked Santa Claus to give her family a legitimate visa.

A 23-year-old Japanese university student, who only identified himself by his family name of Fukuda, said learning about AFPS awoke his social conscience, prompting him to try to communicate firsthand with and help the visa overstayers.

“In the eyes of the majority of the Japanese public, I think overstayers are viewed with certain skepticism (because of their illegal status),” Fukuda said. “But before jumping down their throat, I think we should listen to what they have to say. . . . After all, given the shrinking population, Japanese society won’t be able to survive on its own without (the) help of foreigners.”

‘Trusted travelers’

Kyodo

A Justice Ministry panel of experts Monday proposed introducing a system of “trusted travelers” to simplify immigration checks on foreign visitors deemed unlikely to be a terrorist or criminal, ministry officials said.

The panel submitted the proposal as a way to lure tourists and businesspeople to Japan and help vitalize the economy.

  • Ealonian

    A
    visa is a passport endorsement indicating that the holder is allowed to enter,
    leave or stay for a specified period of time in a country and is often a
    reciprocal arrangement between nation states. Japanese need to understand the
    mindset of people who are willing to break this trust and continue living
    illegally after their agreement has run out often with no thought to native
    Japanese workers, local taxpayers and bone fide gaijin facing extra checks on
    entry due to the unscrupulous few. Elsewhere Kyodo news reporting that Yokohama has
    reduced it’s nursery waiting times to nil! Here in London, mass
    immigration is now causing a shortfall 120,000 primary school places this year
    with an additional 800,000 children aged 11 or under entering education by 2020 due to exploding immigrant birth rates. At least the Japanese authorities will now know where to serve
    deportation orders i.e. outside the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau from Monday!

    • Ururoa

      Yep, and every one of those overstayers in Japan has been employed by a knowing employer, paid rent to a knowing landlord, paid sales tax on all purchases, income taxes, state medical and pension withholding taxes (sorry, “insurances”), school fees to knowing schools, etc. etc.

      When was the last time in Japan u ever say a news item about an employer being arrested and charged with employing an illegal alien? If the overstayers can get arrested and deported, then why shouldn’t those who profit from them also suffer the consequences?

      They wouldn’t be in Japan if there wasn’t the demand for their services in the first place!

  • Cheryl Garcia

    Humanity and compassion is supposed to be univeral. There are a lot of Japanese in different countries treated well and given dignity and living normal lives because they are welcomed and given the legal immigration status. You should do the same to the hard working honest overstaying human being.

    • Sam Etse

      I hope you can see the irony in your own comments. An Individual that you mark as “[a] hard working honest overstaying human being” might be a hard worker, and that’s great! When they decide to overstay their visa they are no longer what most would consider Honest. Would you call someone who intentionally breaks laws honest? If so we have created a whole group of new honorable jobs (honest thieves, honest fraudsters, .ect.)

  • Cheryl Garcia

    Humanity and compassion and second chances to those who are deserving hard working honest overstayers.

  • Alex Hinokuchi

    It is also a big issue in America too. Regardness of what status they are in now, an illegal residence is a violation of law. People must obey the immigration law, taking the appropriate legal steps before entering the foreign country-otherwise, sooner or later, they have to reap the consequences.

    In addition to this, Japanese Govenment should not use these foreigners based on their convinience for such an economic sustainability as a tool like a whim, giving a false hope to them. Stop taking advantage and deceive them;rather, utilize own people to solidify and stablize the strong economy, which is impecable to any foreign influences or internal weakeness.

    If Japan want to survive in this global multicultural environment, they have to clean up and discard their own vice and Social or individual moral sins, including “honne to tatemae”and taking more responsibility to their own actions for the betterment of any social and political arenas.

    tatemae”