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Japan’s revised immigration law raises concerns about deportation


Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Japanese government building in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district, where the Immigration Services Agency is located.

Tokyo (Jiji Press) – Japan’s revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, which came into full effect on Monday, has raised alarm among those facing possible deportation under the new regulations.

The revised law marks a major change in the rules for detention and repatriation of foreigners without residency status and allows the government to deport individuals who have applied for refugee status three or more times even while their application is pending, unless they have a have a valid reason. .

“There is no guarantee of life if I return,” said Myo Kyaw Kyaw, 38, a member of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority who is seeking refugee status in Japan after fleeing the Southeast Asian country. “It is a law that does not protect lives.”

He joined the democratization movement in Myanmar after becoming aware of the problems with the country’s military regime as a high school student. He said he literally risked his life for the movement. His family was also in danger.

After arriving in Japan in 2006, he applied for refugee status three times, but all of his applications were rejected. Dissatisfied with the conclusion, he has appealed to an organization affiliated with the Immigration Services Agency of Japan for refugee recognition, but it is uncertain whether he will receive such recognition.

He wonders what he can do. If he is deported and returns to Myanmar, there is no guarantee for his life.

Myo Kyaw Kyaw said an acquaintance who is applying for refugee recognition for the third time is desperate about the entry into force of the “strict” law, even going so far as to express a death wish in a telephone conversation.

A man from Cameroon, 61, who came to Japan in 2012, said seeking refugee status is part of human rights.

The man was involved in a labor movement in the African country, where he confronted the government with his call for the abolition of unpaid labor. His colleague was murdered and he himself fled to Japan to escape government persecution.

His two applications for refugee status were both rejected. He was held in an immigration detention center for two years starting in 2018, when he applied for a second time. Recalling his time in the facility, he said he felt mentally cornered in a place like a prison.

In November 2018, while in custody, he filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court, demanding the revocation of the decision not to recognize him as a refugee.

The court ruled in his favor, but the Tokyo High Court overturned the decision in February this year. He is currently provisionally released from detention. He has appealed to the Supreme Court for the recognition of refugees.

Refugee applicants should not be treated like animals, the man said. “Please stop forcibly deporting and killing us.”

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