Petition against Japan’s Existing Immigration Policy

(PDF: English Translation is in P. 2)

To the Minister of Justice,

To the Chief of Immigration Bureau,

Petition against Japan’s Existing Immigration Policy

We find that the recent debates over whether Japan should implement official immigration policy is misleading. What Japanese people has to do first of all is to know the problems caused by the existing Immigration Control Policy of Japan, and to solve them.

The problem of human rights abuse against immigration detainees in Japan arose at the same time as the establishment of Immigration Bureau in the postwar period, and still remains essentially unchanged. Its initial purpose was to detain and deport Koreans who migrated in Japan during and after Japan’s colonization of Korea. When Japan’s economic boom in the 1980s attracted workers from other Asian countries, Japan treated them only as “trainees” or “students” in order to avoid their admission as workers and neglect protecting their rights, which makes immigrants in Japan vulnerable to exploitation and abuse until today.

Japan’s immigration authorities stigmatize undocumented immigrants as criminals, or blame asylum applicants for camouflaging their real intention that they just seek for permission to work, while they impose unfair and unjust immigration rules from which immigrants attempt to escape. On the other hand, the authorities reject even such asylum seekers obviously meeting the definition in the Refugee Convention. They ignore freedom and basic rights of immigration detainees. They extend the period of detention indefinitely. They take no responsibility for any harm or death seemingly caused by long-term detention.

In a word, Japan’s immigration policy is designed to facilitate exploitation and abuse of non-citizens, especially those from developing countries. A nation maintaining such an indefensible policy never deserves to admit immigrant workers. As far as it maintains this policy, Japan will inevitably face increasing resentment by foreign citizens, and it will be difficult in the future that Japanese people make good friends with other nations when the home countries of immigrants compete or overtake Japan economically.

We therefore call for the reform of Japan’s existing immigration policy. We believe that all the demands below are feasible under existing law, or will be so by making a slight amendment of it.

1. Grant the status of residence to the children born to undocumented immigrants in Japan, and to their family members.

2. Grant the status of residence to undocumented immigrants living in Japan for a long time, e.g. for five years or more.

3. Grant the status of residence to all the undocumented immigrants married to a Japanese citizen or a permanent resident.

4. Examine asylum applications in a fair and reasonable manner, by changing the current way which is essentially contradictory to UN Refugee Convention.

5. Never detain those meeting the Demands 1-4 above.

6. Do not detain anyone for more than three months.

7. Abolish “Trainee” Admission Policy (gino-jisshu seido) and Government’s “300,000 International Students” Plan. Instead, implement a policy to provide immigrant workers with equal protection of their rights.

Japanese Version: Released on October 18, 2018; English Version: Released on January 28, 2019

By SYI (Shuyosha Yujin-yushi Ichido: Immigration Detainees’ Friends, a voluntary association in Tokyo)

Contact: freeimmigrants [at] / 080 8844 7318 (+81 80 88 44 73 18)