National

Trafficking victims to get residency

Japan will grant victims of human-trafficking special residency status if they are found to have overstayed their visas and accelerate measures to crack down on perpetrators of the crime, government officials said Tuesday.

The actions will be stipulated in state-proposed revisions to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. The government plans to submit a bill to amend the law to that end during the ordinary Diet session that convenes Friday.

The latest move is part of the government’s efforts to combat the trafficking of foreign women into the country. Japan came under international pressure last year to combat human-trafficking after a report in June by the U.S. State Department downgraded Japan’s efforts to fight the problem. Tokyo adopted a plan to combat the crime in December.

According to the officials, the government will be stricter in going after brokers of human-trafficking and fine those who create, possess or provide fake passports for the purpose of illegally bringing foreign nationals into the country.

The special residency status is aimed at ensuring the victims have legal status, the officials said. This way, victims can feel safe while receiving protection at civic aid centers and consultation offices and while testifying in court against their brokers.

The status will also be applied in cases where immigration officers identify victims at the airport. The justice minister could, on a case by case basis, approve the victims’ entry into Japan and help provide protection, the officials said.

In the past, foreign nationals involved in prostitution were subject to deportation despite having proper visas, but victims of human-trafficking will not be subject to deportation.

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