A government panel of experts on Monday approved a proposal to start handing down punishments for foreigners who ignore deportation orders as a step to resolve the issue of prolonged detentions at immigration facilities.
The penalization is a key item in the recommendations approved by the panel, which discusses immigration policy issues for the justice minister.
The recommendations will soon be submitted to Justice Minister Masako Mori. The Justice Ministry and the Immigration Services Agency will begin work to revise the immigration law.
At the end of 2019, 942 foreign nationals were staying in detention facilities after receiving deportation orders for reasons including illegal overstaying.
Of the detainees, 649, or about 70 percent, refused to leave Japan. Many of them said they will fall into poverty if they return or that they have family in Japan.
The recommendations cite the agency’s view that long-term detention is problematic in terms of immigration control and the health of detainees.
The recommendations also call for introducing punishments for foreigners who ignore deportation orders and those who fled after being released provisionally during their detention.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of foreign detainees repeatedly apply for refugee status even though they know they have no chance of being approved, a loophole of a Japanese rule that mandates that applicants not be deported during their refugee application process.
The authorities should be allowed to deport foreign nationals who repeatedly make applications with the same content to seek refugee status, the recommendations said.