People facing deportation file petition to stay

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

People who overstayed their visas in Japan, along with their families and supporters, submitted a petition Friday to the Justice Ministry asking that it refrain from deporting those who have established their lives here.

The 34-member group, organized by the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a nongovernment organization aimed at supporting foreign residents in Japan, wrapped up its five-day sit-in Friday in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Minato Ward. It was protesting a government-sponsored mass-deportation project targeting visa overstayers.

Noting that some have children born in Japan, the petition stressed that those children have grown accustomed to the lifestyle here and being expelled will subject them to great emotional stress. A total of 16 children joined the sit-in. Nine of these are currently subject to possible deportation.

Born in Japan, all of them have now reached the 10-year-old threshold the government’s 2009 guideline stipulates will likely qualify their families for special permission to stay, the petition said.

It went on to suggest that illegal residents married to Japanese nationals also be allowed to stay.

It asked for government leniency regarding unmarried overstayers who have lived here for more than 20 years, citing their strong emotional attachment to Japan.

After the group’s visit, a ministry official vowed to deal with their petition in a “careful manner,” according to Jotaro Kato, APFS’ chief organizer, saying the remark was bureaucratic and appeared to lack sincerity.

He also noted an online-based rightwing group plans to urge the ministry to dismiss the petition, an apparent reflection of the recent surge of nationalism.