Japan repatriates 22 illegal immigrants to Bangladesh, among them unsuccessful asylum seekers

by

Staff Writer

The government has repatriated 22 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the fourth round of its contentious mass deportation program using a state-chartered plane, the Justice Ministry announced Thursday.

Subject to the repatriation, conducted Wednesday, were visa overstayers and other illegal immigrants who had long “stubbornly” ignored deportation orders issued by the state, immigration official Atsushi Gokan of the Justice Ministry said.

All deportees were adult males aged 23 to 53, with none handcuffed while aboard out of consideration for their human rights, Gokan said.

The government move Wednesday marked the fourth time it has flown back illegal immigrants en masse using a specially chartered plane, following Filipinos and Thais in 2013 and Sri Lankans and Vietnamese in 2014.

The program, introduced in 2013, is considered cheaper than when the state repatriates immigrants one by one. The Justice Ministry also touts the program as safer in that it involves no commercial passengers on board.

In a revelation that could spark ire among human rights activists, the ministry acknowledged some of those deported Wednesday had applied for refugee status, albeit unsuccessfully.

Some of these failed applicants, Gokan admitted, were repatriated within the first six months after the final rejection — a period in which they are legally allowed to file a lawsuit against the state in a bid to nullify the ministry’s decision.

The government similarly deprived some Sri Lankans it deported in December 2014 of the last-resort shot at refugee status — a decision decried by critics as life-threatening because it could expose them to persecution back home.

On Thursday, immigration officials reiterated that the decision to deport such unsuccessful applicants presented no human rights violation, because they officially lost asylum-seeker status the moment they were deemed ineligible for Japan’s refugee recognition criteria, which itself is often criticized for being overly conservative.

  • Jonathan Fields

    I’m surprised there aren’t a bunch of the usual suspects in here talking about how Japan has a right to be closed and that excluding refugees and being racist is totally OK when Japan does it.

    • Clickonthewhatnow

      It depends. I would respect the official line given “we have to take care of our own after the disaster in Fukushima” if it weren’t total BS and seemingly infinite resources were not being poured into whatever horrible Olympics this will end up being, while almost 5 years later there are victims of Fukushima still living in temporary housing. Excluding refugees and being racist are one and the same, though? Huh. News to me. Looking forward to that particular explanation.

  • At Times Mistaken

    I’m surprised that a paper read by a fair number of immigrants uses the term “illegal” to describe them (no one is illegal).

    • At Times Mistaken

      In a recent Guardian article (“Type immigrant into Google. Chances are it autocompletes to ‘immigration'”) James Gingell writes that “thanks to years of fear-mongering by rightwing press and politicians, I’d argue that both migrant and immigrant have become deleteriously collocalised with another word – illegal.” In fact no human is illegal as the Associated Press (AP) recognized when it dropped the use of the term “illegal immigrant” back in 2013. Words have a sneaky way of shaping our thoughts. Hopefully the Japan Times will come to the same realization as the AP and mold its style guide (I imagine it has one) after theirs.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Ah, more PCism? So what is America to call the many Mexican citizens who cross over their border illegally? I’m curious as to what that is in PC speak.

      • At Times Mistaken

        I don’ know about “PC speak” but the AP, whose goal in this case it says is precision and accuracy, would word that scenario pretty much as you have (i.e. crossing over the border illegally). The AP Sylebook instructs reporters to: “Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.”

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        So the term would then be…?

      • At Times Mistaken

        I’m not much of a writer but I imagine there could be a number of different terms. Try reading an AP, LA Times or maybe USA Today (I think those last two, among others, have also dropped “illegal immigrant) story on the subject.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Wow, reading up on that it is entirely a PC thing. #Wordsmatter? Pfft. But, I was able to see that the “proper usage term” according to PC sources is “undocumented immigrant”. The act of immigration itself was still illegal, but I suppose whatever the PC movement wants next. Thank goodness Japan has not gotten on board that train.

      • At Times Mistaken

        The quote above (in reference to the AP Stylebook) comes from an April 2, 2013 AP blog post.

      • At Times Mistaken

        I don’ know about “PC speak” but the AP, whose goal in this case it says is precision and accuracy, would word that scenario pretty much as you have (i.e. crossing over the border illegally). The AP Sylebook instructs reporters to: “Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.”

  • jr_hkkdo

    None of the countries whose citizens are being deported here are usual suspects in the terrorist activities around the world. Also, these countries are not particularly threatening, nor have any serious military (or economic) power or connections. It makes me think that Japan may be doing this for political showmanship rather than a serious attempt to protect Japan itself. I hope I am wrong.

    • EDWIN KHAN

      Nope…your not wrong!…what you’ve said is absolutely true because me too an asylum seeker. They giving us a very hard time for the asylum application though my case is different, I am officially and legally married to my japanese spouse and my marriage was actually given approval by the Ministry of Justice, 2 justice officials who visited me during my time in almost a year of detention to verify my identity and wife’s too but the Immigration bureau itself making it harsh and difficult for me and the others like me to have my/the others social legal status…during my detention, an immigration ticket officer always said, putting us inside the plane is BUSINESS!…you know why?..when you’re in detain and you are forced or want to go back to your own country, you can’t buy your tickets from the travel agencies outside nor choose an airline to ride… because it’s cheaper to buy outside, and very expensive to buy through them and use their own airlines……well, pretty much sure wide eyes open!… A VERY GOOD BUSINESS

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        You spent almost a year in detention? Why, did you overstay your visa, come in illegally? Why, exactly, were you put into detention for almost a year?