The Tokyo District Court on Friday invalidated the decisions of a former justice minister who rejected petitions filed by two Bangladeshis with Japanese wives seeking special permission to stay in Japan even though they have overstayed their visas.

Friday’s rulings on the two cases were the first among a series of similar lawsuits seeking nullification of such decisions made by former Justice Minister Shozaburo Nakamura, according to Kensuke Ohnuki, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Haolader Mohammed Shamim, 36, and another 30-year-old Bangladeshi, who asked not to be identified, are both married to Japanese women.

In the rulings, Judge Kaoru Aoyagi said the plaintiffs have proper marriages, and the minister’s decision that they “had no grounds for continuing to live in Japan” was unreasonable.

Although their marriages were registered after their arrests for overstaying, “there is no doubt that the plaintiffs’ marriages were honest and based on love.”

Aoyagi also ruled that the state decisions were against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The state argued that their marriages “have not matured enough to receive legal protection.”

The plaintiffs are expected to receive special permission to stay in Japan soon, according to legal experts.

The Justice Ministry was not available for comment.

Ohnuki praised the rulings for acknowledging the reality of his clients’ marriages.

“It is a breakthrough that the court cited the international covenant (on the case),” he added.

Only a few rulings in the past decade have reversed the ministry’s rejection of petitions for special permission to overstay visas.

Shamim came to Japan in 1988 and met Akiko Shinozaki at the company in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, where the two worked.

Soon after the couple started preparing for marriage in 1998, Shamim was arrested for overstaying his visa. The couple registered their marriage in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, while Shamim was under custody.

He filed a request with the Justice Ministry not to be deported, which was dismissed Dec. 24, 1998.

The other Bangladeshi, who came to Japan in 1990, started living with his future wife in June 1997. He was arrested for overstaying his visa in October 1998.

They reported their marriage to Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward Office in December that year. His petition for special permission was denied in January.

Shamim suffered from neurosis while being detained in immigration centers in Tokyo and Ibaraki Prefecture since January, while the other plaintiff, under detention since December, suffered from depression, Ohnuki said.

Nakamura was criticized by the Social Democratic Party in an Upper House Budget Committee session in April over his decisions to turn down a number of petitions without “sufficient examination.”

About 20 lawsuits have been filed against Nakamura’s decisions, Ohnuki said.

In November 1998, Nakamura declared he would decide on the petitions himself and not let bureaucrats in on the process. He rejected 52 such cases while in office.

Nakamura was forced to resign in March to take responsibility for alleged abuse of his office and other gaffs.

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