46 Thais deported aboard one plane

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Japan deported 46 illegal Thai immigrants Sunday in the second round of a new mass deportation program that makes use of a government-chartered plane, the Immigration Bureau said Monday.

The second round followed the deportation of 75 Filipinos, most of them visa violators, in July, all reportedly in handcuffs.

The government started using the chartered aircraft in July reportedly to cut costs and reduce safety concerns. Illegal immigrants are usually deported individually.

Sunday’s mass deportation cost about ¥24 million, or half of what it would have paid if each person had been flown out individually on a commercial jet, an immigration official said.

The initiative is also touted as being safer because it takes regular airline passengers out of the equation. In the past, desperate immigrants have made last-ditch attempts to escape or postpone deportation, including by screaming and attacking immigration officials, according to the bureau, which is under the Justice Ministry.

The 46 Thais deported this time included 26 males and 20 females, including three children. Of them, 26 were caught overstaying their visa, 16 entering the country illegally and four committing crimes, including drug-related offenses.

After July’s mass deportation, the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a citizens’ group advocating for human rights of foreign residents in Japan, interviewed some of the deported Filipinos. Several said their ouster tore them away from families and long-term partners in Japan that they consider their real spouses, and their children.

Also while on board, the deportees were handcuffed all the time, including when they ate and used the lavatory, an “insulting” treatment that many said made them feel subhuman, APFS representative Jotaro Kato said.

The immigration official stressed that nobody was cuffed while aboard the plane this time.