OSAKA — The 9-year-old daughter of an illegal immigrant from South Korea made an appeal to Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama to let her family stay in Japan so that she can continue to study here.

Lee Yugi, a second grade student at a municipal elementary school in Osaka, was ordered by the Osaka Immigration Bureau last August to leave the country along with her 36-year-old mother and 5-year-old brother.

The bureau issued the order after it had rejected a 1997 request by the mother, who came to Japan 10 years ago, for special permission to stay.

The family filed a suit with the Osaka High Court in November, seeking to annul the bureau’s decision.

Meanwhile, teachers and parents at the girl’s school started a petition drive calling for the withdrawal of the expulsion order, saying, “It does not make any sense since (the girl) cannot even speak Korean.”

They handed Moriyama some 17,000 signatures when they met on May 17. The minister reportedly told them that she would sincerely consider their appeal.

The family’s attorney, Yoshihiro Sorano, pointed out the shortcomings of the immigration law, saying the lack of a solid standard has been causing conflicting results in similar cases.

According to Michitsune Kusaka, a member of a civic group supporting foreign workers and their families, the Osaka Immigration Bureau has been increasingly issuing since around last August expulsion orders for mothers with children who cannot speak the mother’s first language. This has lead to other court actions similar to the one involving Lee.

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