• Kyodo

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Immigration authorities have issued a special residency permit to an Iranian family of four who have been living in Japan without proper papers for a number of years, family members said.

Saeid Partow Helal, 49, his wife, Mitra Keshavarz, 41, and their daughters, Anahita, 9, and Bita, 8, were seeking to remain in Japan, citing the children’s medical needs.

“I am very happy and don’t know what to say,” the father said at a news conference Friday in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture. The mother said, “All four in the family can finally live happily in Kofu, the hometown of our children.”

This was the family’s fifth attempt to get a special residency permit. This time, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau had requested detailed documentation and the family presented a statement citing the need for the daughters’ medical treatment.

In March, they submitted a petition with about 3,000 signatures calling on immigration authorities to permit them to stay.

The two parents came to Japan in 1991 after having two stillborn babies in Iran. They overstayed their visas, hoping to raise children in Japan where medical standards are higher, they said. Their two daughters were born here.

The father was detained by immigration authorities in September 2002 and was released provisionally after about two years.

News that the family’s application was successful came just days after another Iranian family of four who overstayed their visas in Gunma Prefecture for more than 10 years was split up. Three members of the family left Japan on April 26 by order of immigration authorities, while a daughter has been allowed to stay on to continue her education at a junior college.

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