I’m afraid I must take issue with Minako Ishii’s April 23 letter, “Leniency will make matters worse,” concerning the Calderon family’s plight. I find that her response is typical of many Japanese who seem unable to see the wider issue that the Calderon case has raised. It should be obvious to onlookers that this is not simply about violating immigration laws; it concerns Japan’s respect (or lack thereof) for human rights.
I’d like to raise two points: First, although the Calderons broke immigration law, I suspect that their deportation is in fact an attempted whitewash to obscure criticism of the immigration authorities who were negligent in allowing the Calderons to remain in Japan. In fact, the Calderons are being punished for failings in the Japanese immigration system.
Second, the case highlights the lack of provisions for human rights in Japan. In Europe, the rather spiteful and petty-minded decision to separate the Calderon family could have been subject to legal action under either Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) or Article 8 (the right to a private family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Human rights are universal and I feel that the Japanese should be alarmed that they and their non-Japanese compatriots are not afforded them. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that the only major document in Japan that affords human rights to the Japanese (Japanese Constitution) was drafted by foreigners. It’s a shame that this irony will be lost on most Japanese.
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