The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday overturned a ruling allowing a Japan-born Filipino girl to remain in the country.

The Tokyo District Court ruled Nov. 5 that 16-year-old Jomein, the eldest daughter in her family, was allowed to stay in Japan, but that her parents and three younger siblings had to go.

All four children were born in Japan. The father came to Japan on a 15-day visa and the mother entered Japan illegally in 1986. He has been in detention since 2003.

Presiding Judge Hiroyuki Kanno of the district court nullified the deportation order against the girl, saying, “The eldest daughter has led a life just like that of a Japanese for a long time, and it will be very difficult for her to live in the Philippines, where the language and customs are completely different.”

But the high court ruled that the girl has to be deported as well, on grounds that she could overcome the difficulties in her new life in the Philippines.

The district court had supported the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s decision to deport her parents. Her three brothers, being children, had little ability to make decisions and should not live separately from their parents, the district court ruled.

The family’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, called the ruling “unacceptable and irresponsible,” saying it does not take into consideration the family’s situation, especially the children who have no idea about life in the Philippines.

“The (high court) ruling basically says it understands the family’s situation, but said they have to go anyway since they had no (legal) resident status in the first place,” Kodama told reporters.

“All the things that we had asserted, such as that the family should not be separated, were turned against us,” Kodama said. “The court said the family must not be separated, so since the girl’s parents and three brothers are being deported, the girl should be, too.”

The immigration bureau issued the family’s deportation order in May 2003, having found in 1999 that the parents were living in Japan illegally.

The family lives in Saku, Nagano Prefecture.

The parents filed the lawsuit in June 2003. The family and government appealed after the district court’s decision last November.

Jomein, a high school sophomore, said she felt “frustrated” at the outcome and had hoped immigration authorities would show more leniency over their plight.

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