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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 June 17 - 23  > Revised immigration law violates foreigners’ rights
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2009 June 17 - 23 [POLITICS]

Revised immigration law violates foreigners’ rights

June 21, 2009
The House of Representatives in its plenary session on June 19 passed a set of immigration bills to abolish the Alien Registration Act and amend the Immigration Control Act and the Resident Registration Law.

The ruling parties along with the Democratic Party of Japan voted in favor of the bills. The Japanese Communist Party voted against them on the grounds that the bills contain provisions that violate the rights of non-Japanese residents. Nihi Sohei, a JCP member of the House of Councilors, explained why the JCP opposes the bills:

“Foreigners who stay in Japan for more than 90 days are currently documented by the Immigration Control Act and the Alien Registration Act. The present legislative measure will replace this with a new system.

Under the new systems, the Justice Minister will issue a residence card that includes personal information and a code number to foreign residents staying in Japan for more than three months. The data on the card will be kept in the foreign resident register.

In addition to the person’s photo, name, and address, the card will carry information regarding employment, salary, and working conditions. Foreign residents’ failure to carry the card at all times will be subject to punishment. This is a flagrant violation of foreign residents’ right to privacy.

The Ministry of Justice will be authorized to administer all information pertaining to foreign residents. What is more, police and other administrative offices will have access to the information. This causes a serious concern about possible human rights violations.

The establishment of the new system was motivated by an emphasis on crime control, not by the idea of promoting a mutually beneficial relationship with foreigners.

The law provides that the Justice Minister will issue the residence card to “appropriate foreigners”. Undocumented foreigners will not be issued the card, and therefore will be excluded from the foreign residents register.

It is estimated that about 130,000 foreigners are illegally staying in Japan. The Local Autonomy Act enables foreign-registered residents to receive administrative services, irrespective of nationality. However, many foreigners not on the list of registered residents will possibly be denied access to public healthcare and other social welfare services.

Foreign spouses suffering from domestic violence will be possibly deported. The bills will significantly destabilize the status of the foreign spouse.”
- Akahata, June 21, 2009
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