• Kyodo

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The Justice Ministry has disciplined 29 immigration officers over a series of mostly unpublicized offenses that include forgery of official documents, street fighting and a double vehicular hit-and-run that resulted in a two-month pay cut.

Kyodo News learned of the disciplinary measures, which cover a six-year period from 1997 to 2002, through information obtained under the freedom-of-information law.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, which has been tainted by allegations of violence against foreigners in custody and coverups of administrative snafus, claimed the bureau had no intention of concealing the information.

Officials said the disciplinary measures were not made public out of concern for staff privacy and the nature of some of the incidents.

“These were regrettable cases involving Immigration Bureau employees, whose duty is to protect the law,” Toshihiko Itami, head of the bureau’s general affairs division, said. “We want to express our deepest apology to the nation.”

According to documents obtained by Kyodo, an Osaka immigration officer forged an investigation paper in 1998 in order to make personal contact with a foreign national. The officer duly obtained the address of the foreigner and visited this person.

The officer’s supervisor saw the forged paper, but the inappropriate contact did not surface until the victim filed a complaint. Further details on the case were not provided.

The bureau issued disciplinary action against the officer in March 1999, amounting to a one-month pay cut.

An officer at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau got drunk and started punching passersby at random before being arrested.

An officer at the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau was found to have driven a government-owned car several times although his driver’s license had been suspended.

At the Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau, a male immigration officer tried to drive away after hitting another car. The other driver gave chase, caught up and tried to confront the officer. As the victim stepped from his car, the officer drove his car into him. He was later given a two-month pay cut.

Most incidents had not been disclosed by the Immigration Bureau, except for two cases.

One case involved a Tokyo immigration officer who contacted a Thai woman who had been detained on immigration charges in Japan, only to provide accommodations to the officer during a private trip to Thailand. Another involved a Tokyo immigration officer who hid illegal drugs at home.

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