The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling that nullified a deportation order for a visaless Iranian family, effectively putting the family back on the deportation track.
In a landmark decision in September, the Tokyo District Court suspended a deportation order imposed by the Justice Ministry on Amineh Khalil, 40, his 37-year-old wife and two school-age daughters.
The court said it was inhumane to deport the family because family members — especially the two daughters — had become fully accustomed to the Japanese way of life.
It was the first time for any court to suspended a deportation order imposed on visaless foreigners with no Japanese relatives, according to the family’s lawyers.
Yet the high court rejected the family’s request to stay, supporting the Justice Ministry’s claim that it was the parents’ own fault that they had settled in Japan illegally and that they were not entitled to leniency from the government.
The high court also said it would be easy for the daughters to resettle in Iran, as they are still young enough to become accustomed to life there and can count on help from their parents.
The couple and their eldest daughter, who is now 15, came to Japan in May 1990 on short-term visas. With their visas having expired after 90 days, they have since stayed here illegally.
The couple eventually settled in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, and had their second daughter, who is now 7.
The family’s lawyers said they would immediately appeal the case to the Supreme Court. They voiced regret that the court had scrapped the lower court ruling handed down by the district court’s Third Civil Division, led by Judge Masayuki Fujiyama.
The division, one of three at the court overseeing suits filed against the government, has handed down a number of rulings that are critical of administrative decisions, including a ruling last week ordering the state to pay 15 million yen in damages to three disabled people who had been denied public pensions.
But Fujiyama’s days at the division are numbered; it has been learned that he will be transferred in April.
Many of Fujiyama’s rulings have also been overturned by higher courts, as was the case Tuesday.
Legal experts say that Fujiyama has increased protection for people whose rights are usually dismissed by courts in light of existing laws, such as visaless foreigners.
One month after overturning a deportation order for the Iranian family, Fujiyama also allowed a South Korean visaless family with a 11-year-old daughter to stay in Japan.
In the ruling, Fujiyama said that it is one’s natural desire to emigrate to a place where they can find a better life, adding that as long as they live peacefully here, their choice to enter or live in Japan without legitimate status is not morally wrong.