NARITA, Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) An undocumented Filipino couple under a deportation order departed for the Philippines on Monday evening from Narita International Airport, leaving behind their 13-year-old daughter, who was recently granted special permission to stay for one year.

Earlier Monday, relatives and colleagues of Arlan Calderon, 36, and his 38-year-old wife, Sarah, gathered at the family’s home in Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, to bid the couple farewell.

“We will be waiting for you (to come back),” said construction worker Yasuhisa Nagashima, one of Calderon’s colleagues, adding that this is not “goodbye.”

While expressing sadness, Calderon said: “I want to thank everyone. Not just the people of Warabi, but those across the nation for supporting me and my family’s cause.

“Noriko (their daughter) is here, so I hope we can return to her side as soon as possible.”

The family had long been seeking special permission for residence for the entire family. But while the Justice Ministry granted their daughter special permission to stay, it refused to extend the permission to the parents.

In mid-March, the Filipino couple told immigration authorities that they would return to the Philippines in April, leaving behind their daughter, who was born and raised in Japan and who has strongly expressed her wish to stay and continue her studies.

They came to the decision to split the family out of fear that, should they continue to ignore a demand from immigration authorities to choose between the departure of the entire family or just the parents, their daughter might also be detained and deported, according to the family’s lawyer, Shogo Watanabe.

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