Visa overstayers launch campaign for ‘legalization’

Group of illegal long-term residents to seek help from local assemblies in legalizing their status


Staff Writer

A group of visa overstayers launched a month-long campaign Monday in which they will ask 36 local assemblies in the Kanto region for special permission to remain in the country legally.

Spearheaded by the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a nonprofit organization, the campaign includes 35 undocumented immigrants of eight nationalities, including Filipinos, Iranians and Peruvians.

The organization submitted the first petition on Monday at noon to a city assembly in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo, where the society’s headquarters is located. It calls for the “immediate legalization” of undocumented immigrants who have long resided in Japan, by issuing special permission to stay in the country.

The group plans to submit similar petitions to at least 35 other local assemblies in the Kanto region, including those in Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, by the end of August. In each case, they will request that their pleas be conveyed to the central government.

“For years we’ve been worried Japanese society has grown increasingly intolerant of these foreigners,” APFS representative Jotaro Kato told reporters. “It appears widening inequalities have come to a head in our society, where the weak are marginalized and made invisible, while the strong thrive in power.” The campaign comes at a time when the government is hoping to lure more foreign workers by expanding its long-criticized foreign trainee program, to combat a critical shortage of manpower in the construction industry. But the plan, APFS adviser Katsuo Yoshinari says, spells trouble because its lacks foresight about how to deal with the foreign workers once they’re allowed into the country.

“Rather than rushing to invite foreign workers from abroad with little planning (on how to help them fit in), we believe the government should first face the existence of those undocumented foreigners already based in our nation, and discuss their possible legalization,” Yoshinari said.

Among those who have joined the campaign is Philippine national Allan Dula, 39.

He originally came to Japan in 1994 under a tourist visa with his Filipino girlfriend, before being caught overstaying it in 2007. He was later detained, but since 2008 has been granted a provisional release. His wife and two sons, both born in Japan, are also without legitimate legal status and are unable to work, claim national health insurance or even travel outside the prefecture in which they reside without permission from immigration officials.

“I was born and raised in Japan my entire life. Even if we go to the Philippines, I have no idea how to survive there. Everyone in my family loves Japan, and I can think of nowhere else to live,” 17-year-old Daniel, one of his sons, said in Japanese.

  • itoshima2012

    Deport them, all if them, quickly

  • Mike

    As a legal perm. resident, I have little sympathy for illegals who decided not to run the gauntlet in order to make themselves legal.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Very poor example chosen by the JT. Whilst many individuals who overstay do so for humanitarian reasons such as due to persecution in their home country, their children not speaking their home country language, or the need to provide care for relatives in Japan, the example chosen in the article almost seems to have been selected to elicit a negative response – an individual who deliberately overstays a tourist visa can hardly be said to merit sympathy – particularly as he appears to have starter a family whilst here illegally. I suspect the JT has an agenda here and is pandering to its rightist paymasters.

    • itoshima2012

      Jamie, I wish you were right… but knowing the JT I can assure you that they did all they could to paint a rosy picture, so the true situation must be much worse e.g. most of the over stayers just try to jump the queue and steel from society as much as they can, so, boot them out asap

  • J.P. Bunny

    If you have overstayed your visa without a compelling reason, then out you go. Most everyone else goes through the proper channels to ensure they are in the country legally, and so should these people. Special cases for humanitarian reasons are fine, but not “I forgot” or ” I wanted to stay and make more money.”

  • Junko

    I’d like to say “they are just illegal, Japanese laws never allow their any staying without formal visa. ” That’s the end. Which contries do allow these kind of people to keep staying without formal visa? I have an experience that one foreign old woman asked me to help getting a formal visa but she didn’t have a formal visa…she was just lazy to update her visa and overstayed for 20 years without jobs. I said her sorry and this is illegal and she would have to go back to her country as soon as possible. She said she has no family in her country, but without visa, she can’t stay in Japan.

    • itoshima2012

      kick her out

  • Mike

    If you mean citizen granted to those who are born in Japan, that would be nice.

  • itoshima2012

    The Japanese living in France are not on the dole nor on social benefits, they’re not imposing Shintoism on the French, they’re not pressing for Japanese food in schools, and we could go on and on. Plus, I would say that most of those 30,000 living in France are either students or well educated professionals eager to integrate, or they’re probably ex pats with a reasonable income contributing to the French tax pool. I repeat, I hope Visa overstayers get deported asap.

  • itoshima2012

    Japan is fair, if your qualify for a Visa you can come here, if you break the law you face the consequences. That’s fair. Giving people born on your soil the citizenship is not admissible by Japanese law as it is in many other countries.