A group of scholars supporting the amnesty appeal of 21 foreigners who have overstayed their visas submitted a petition to the justice minister Thursday requesting that he grant special permission for the foreigners to live permanently in Japan.

In calling for an amnesty, the petition, bearing 593 signatures of scholars and researchers, reasoned that the foreigners, who have lived here about 10 years, have established living bases here, including children born or raised here.

Tsukuba University Prof. Hiroshi Komai, president of the researchers’ group supporting the appeal, said that if the minister refuses to grant permission, it will draw criticism from both domestic and international academic circles.

He claimed his group will file an administrative suit against the ministry unless the minister grants them amnesty.

The illegal workers and their families visited the Tokyo Regional Immigration Office on Sept. 1 to seek special permission from the justice minister to stay.

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