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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Archive
  • 2001.01.31
  • 436
Present Situations of the Undocumented foreigners in Japan & Meaning of the General movement for obtaining Special permission for Residence 
--Grant Residence as A Rights to All Undocumented Foreigners and Their Families 

1. Undocumented migrant Workers Formed Living Bases In Japan 

Many foreigners came to Japan from Asian countries seeking a place to work for the period of latter half of 1980 to 1990. It was a time when demand of the enterprises suffering shortage of the labors in the era of high economic growth and supply of the foreigners who came to Japan looking for their bread were balanced. Afterwards, many foreigners had to return to their countries as the economy of Japan has gradually decreased. There were not few foreigners who had to return to their home countries against their intention due to strengthen a crackdown by the police and the Immigration Bureau for the undocumented foreigners. 

However, the number of the undocumented foreigners working in Japan was not decreased so much as the result of strength control of entry and raid by the Immigration Bureau. Nearly 270,000 undocumented foreigners are now working in Japan. Under these circumstances, the settlement of the undocumented foreigners were increasing due to inviting their families to Japan and also increasing number of marriage of the same nationals while they are living in Japan fairly long. And the undocumented foreigners were established accordingly their living bases in Japan. Even though they have returned to their home countries, there would be no forecast of finding the place lead their daily lives and also their children were already grownup. They would become to demand strongly that they would like to lead their lives in Japan. 

Establishment of APFS, supporting group for the undocumented migrant workers was in December 1987 which was the time to increase the foreigners working in Japan. At first, most of the consultation accepted at APFS were about labor and daily life. However consultations about mixed marriages, education and nationality of the children were increased from the year of 1992. It could be said that the settlement of the undocumented foreigners was started about this time. 

2. The root of statue of the migrant workers who have no rights 

Although APFS holds a May Day Meeting for Migrant Workers every year and discuss rights of the undocumented foreigners, the conclusion of the statue of without any rights is always ended with existance of their illegal statues. 

APFS has been requested to take Amnesty in effect to the Immigration Bureau since summer 1994 even though their stay in Japan are not legal as we considered that it is necessary to take some kind of action against them not only as Government and but also from international standpoint as long as the undocumented foreigners have formed their living based in Japan who have been spent their daily lives with fear of arrest by the police or immigration Bureau. Actually, the Amnesty was taken in effect in European counties upto now and the most current took Amnesty in effect was Thailand in order to make all undocumented foreigners legalized. 

As the result of our demand to take Amnesty in effect to the Immigration Bureau(Ministry of Justice) over and over, their attitude to this demand was always negative and will not expect to change their attitude in future. 

On the other hand, the tendency of long-stay and settle down of the undocumented foreigners showed upward, it is a matter of question to solve not only the case of the undocumented foreigners and but also their families, especially the children who have not given enough rights. It is obvious that the illegal workers 2nd generation will soon arise after 3 to 4 years if we keep the present situations as they are, because the children are now in the Junior and Senior High Schools. Since most of the grown-up people who entered in Japan are confident criminals in a sense, it might be obliged to accept punishment by the law of the country. However, nobody could judged these children who have been brought by the parent went they were young or born in Japan as they have no responsibility whatsoever. 

3. Process to make a decision to appear at immigration bureau 

An article concerning the undocumented foreigners was appeared in the editorial column of the Asahi shinbun (morning edition) in early this year. To put it simply about the article, it was not allowed for the Japanese Government to leave the undocumented foreigners without rights any more. Stimulating by this article, we have considered to see if we could make the undocumented foreigners to legalize by using the present law since Amnesty is not expected to take in effort at once. 

One of the activities to obtain the special permission for residence for the undocumented foreigners who have married to the Japanese nationals were started in1993 at APFS due to increase of the mixed marriage. And we have come to think whether we could utilize Article 50 (special permission for residence) of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act by the reason of establishment of their living bases in Japan to the undocumented foreigners or not. Of course it is meaningless if the Japanese staffs considered this issue alone. Because in case the special permission for residence is not granted, deportation order will be issued. And also it is a chance to be detained when they appeared at the Immigration Bureau. This is because we have heard when we had a meeting with the Immigration Bureau that the policies of the Bureau is to detain all persons in principle who appeared at Immigration Bureau even with their own will. The risk for a chance to be detained would be borne by the person to be appeared. Therefore, we have discussed over and over the meaning of the special permission for residence and the policies of the Japanese Government for the undocumented foreigners with the persons to be appeared. At the beginning of this movement, there were over 50 persons who wish to appear at the Immigration Bureau, but the numbers of the persons were decreased at every meeting, and21 persons (5 families and 2 individuals0 were finally confirmed their will to appear at the Immigration Bureau when the meeting of 10th APFS May Day was held on May 2, 1999. 

The movement was advanced to the stage for requesting the various information concerning the General Movement for obtaining Special Permission for Residence through the supporting groups about June. And we have held a several discussions with the each family including their children. The staffs of APFS visited their residences of the undocumented foreigners and discussed the matters in detail several times. The establishment of the lawyers group supporting this movement was started about this time and the preparatory meeting was held mainly by the members of lawyers belong to the Center for Protection of Foreigners" Human Rights, The Tokyo Bar Associations who have a lot of experiences in these matters. We also held a meeting with the lawyers and the person concerned and the lawyers explained that the chance to obtain the special permission for residence was a very small. One of Iranian mothers who have a baby a primary school girl started that we have decided to appear at the Immigration Bureau for our children because we just can not bear to keep the present situations any more, and we do not mind to be sacrificed ourselves even if we were detained or deported if this movement would advanced to the next step. Nobody can not change this decision. We assured that all adults who are going to be appeared at the Immigration Bureau had the same thought. However, there was a child who had against this though as stated above because they could stay in Japan without deportation if they keep silent, and they could go to the Immigration Bureau when child became a college student if they wish. However, they were classified outside of the National Health Insurance Scheme and various social securities system and they have to coming out sooner or later as the present is a position to be arrested at any time. And the time to coming out is now which is just before the 21st centries. The tone of the mass media for the undoucumented foreigners has been changed a little from the stereotype. The editorial of the Asahi Shinbun dated on September 3, 1999 is the one of the latest sample. 

4. Just before the day to be appeared at the immigration bureau 

The people to be appeared at the Immigration Bureau were gradually feeling depressed because of anxiety and tension as the day to be appeared is approaching. Those persons who said that they would accept interview by the mass media disclosing their faces at first were now begun to reject the interview. And we held a meeting to encourage for those who have decided to appear at the Immigration Bureau on August 29 to confirm their final will. And 21 people (5 families and 2 individuals) were appeared at the participant of this meeting for the first time. The return speech made by the representative of the group was not very cleared what was the real meaning of the speech due to seeing the figures of the children with anxiety. However, the participants over 100 of this meeting understood what is inside of their minds And it was reported that the day to be appeared at the Immigration Bureau will be soon and also announced that the press conference will be held on the same day of the appearance at the Immigration Bureau to the members of the mass media. 

The day to be appeared at the immigration Bureau was on September 1. at 3 P..M.. Since we have given them advance notice that we would come to the Immigration Bureau, there was no confusion and they led us into the large conference room and explained the normal procedure for the special permission for the residence by the chief of Immigration Control Officer. 

Five lawyers and five APFS staffs were also attended together with 21persons. As about 20 control officers were also stand by at the conference room, it was a feeling that they might be detained. The investigation by the Control Officer was started by each family and individual as soon as the orientation was over. The child before the primary school ages were not investigated. And the lawyers and the APFS staffs went together were waited at the conference room. This was because the Immigration Bureau did not admitted the lawyer to attend at the investigation. Mr. Adel Ghebi who is an Iranian and head of the group of this time returned to the conference room with a smile after a little over one hour and told us. That the control officer told him that he would be investigated without detention. 

And the atmosphere of the conference room was changed a little then. The families who have finished the initial investigation, returned to the conference room one after another, and the last one was a Bangladeshi, Mr. Mohammad Alam. All the people investigated returned to the conference by a little after five o"clock. 

5. The meaning of the general movement for obtaining special permission for residence

The movement for obtaining special permission for residence this time was compelled to take an action to the Immigration Bureau-Ministry of Justice by the undocumented foreigners since there is no intention to be taken Amnesty in effect by the Japanese Government. 

It is not admitted to overlook 270,000 undocumented foreigners with no rights. There would be no changes expected unless people take an action. It could be considered that the feelings mentioned above were the reasons to start this movement. Although 21 persons out of 270,000 undocumented foreigners may be a very small existence, it is necessary to take an action in order to acquire own rights. Their action this time should be evaluated as the point at least to inform this fact to the 270,000 undocumented foreigners. It could be said that the true self-supported of the undocumented foreigners was begun. We also confirmed that the Immigration Bureau-the Ministry of Justice found the fact that they could not leave the undocumented foreigners and their families with no rights with this movement. 

The struggle has just started. We know that the Immigration Bureau noticed the importance of this movement than any other people. Mr. Mohammed Alam, Bangladeshi and I were asked to come to the Immigration Bureau five days after we appeared at the Immigration Bureau. They made a hearing of myself because I was a guarantor of Mr. Alam and tried to check my criminal records which I feel nothing to do with this case. And Mr. Maung Mying Swe, Burmese is asking to visit the Bureau on September 17, and Mr. Adel Chebi, Iranian, a head of the group this time on September 22 and other three families are now asked to come to the Bureau latter part of this month for investigation. It seems that the Immigration Bureau might be trying to crash this movement before it becomes a social problem by their power. It is true that the house of Mr. T., Iranian, was visited by the police of his district. We, APFS, considered that there is only way to solve this problem such as to appeal the meaning of this movement to public opinion and make this issue as a social problem and make this issue as a social problem and to be surround the Immigration Bureau-Ministry of Justice socially. Therefore, it is needed to give the information with persuasive words concerning that it would be aroused inevitable from the situations of the the migrant workers in the world, and this movement would not be unexpected and /or accidental from not only the views of the economical or the sociological but also the domestic or the international laws. The formal supporting awyers group for this movement would be established by 15 appealed lawyers on September 21. And also it is expected to be made a proposition for the social meaning and theoretical bases of this movement by the researchers and scholars. Furthermore, we are now planning to set up a movement to collect 270,000 signatures which is about the same number of the undocumented foreigners staying in Japan. And also we are now making a list of the second group to be appeared at the Immigration Bureau. Now is not the time for the undocumented foreigners to hesitate to appear in the society. It would be said that appearance of the undocumented foreigners in the society is the only way to be admitted and able to live in the Japanese society. And also it is a very important future problem what should be done by the undocumented foreigners who have appeared together with the Japanese. Is it enough to support or cooperate with those foreigners? It has been said in a long time ago that the Japanese society is now questioned to each Japanese through this issue how to live with the undocumented foreigners, especially with the children in the 21 centuries. 

6. Conclusion

As I stated at the beginning, nearly 270,000 undocumented foreigners and their family are living in Japan at present. The economy of Japan is still in depression as before and the unemployment ratio became high. However, there are may small business who are still employing the undocumented foreigners. The Japanese labors dislike the labor of so-called three Ks: Kitanai(dirty), Kiken(dangerous) and Kitsui(hard). It is obvious that the young Japanese labors who wish to work at small business which has been supported the bases of economy of Japan would become short when the Japanese society would become aging and less child in near future. The economic council which is a advisory organ of the prime minister stated necessity of accepting immigration labor force as a topic of next ten years plan in last Apri. Mr. Yotaro Kobayashi, Chairman of Fuji Xerox who is one of the representatives of the financial world of Japan even stated that it is a duty of Japan to accept migrant workers to the certain extent as the result of wealthy economy of Japan attract many people. The Japanese Government is trying to cover the shortage of simple labor by labor of Japanese descent and system of foreign trainee. Although the Japanese Government considers that it is possible to supply young and flexible labor force with cheap wages by introducing the technical trainee system, nobody can not deny that there would be no future of economy of Japan unless the migrant workers are accepted. 

If we all agreed to the above, it could be considered that we should be ready to for future to take a measures to make the undocumented foreigners legalize who have their Japanese society as they have stayed some ten years. Most of the undocumented foreigners working long in Japan would learn Japanese language and become expert labor at the company and taking the most important part of the manufacturing process. Confirming once again that there would be no prosperity and growth of the Japanese society for future if we do not accept the migrant workers. And we should know about existence of 270,000 undocumented foreigners as the people with whom we could establish future of Japan. Diary of the general movement obtaining special permission for residence. 



1999 

September 1. 21 undocumented foreigners (3 families and 2 individuals from 3 countries, Age: 2 to 68 years old) appeared at Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau at ] Kita-Ku, Tokyo,. 

First investigation of violation was given for each family after general Explanation of the process was made by the officer in charge at the meeting room on 4th Floor. 

17 Detailed Investigation of Burmese family was started. 

18 Detailed Investigation of Iranian individual was started. 

20 Detailed Investigation of Bangladeshi individual was started. 

21 Meeting of supporting lawyers group Detailed Investigation of Iranian family (T) (except children) was started. 

27 Detailed Investigation of Iranian family (T) (except children) was started. 

28 Detailed Investigation of Iranian family (T) (except children) was started. 

29 & 30 Detailed Investigation of Iranian family (T) (except children) was started. 
(Note : Investigations for all families and the individuals were finished with one or two-visit to the Immigration Bureau) 15 to 30 Collected signature of supporting group (total 110 groups) 

30 Ms. Yukiko Kawahashi, Democratic Party, a member of the House of Councillors, questioned to the Minister of Justice concerning Taking humanitarian action to the overstayers at the Committee of the Settlement of Budgets in the House of Councilars. 

October 4 Meeting by the scholars and researchers supporting those 21 undocumented Foreigners such as Professor Komai, Tsukuba University, Professor Watado, Meisei University and Assistant Professor Yamawaki, Meiji University and others. 

12 Requested to support this movement to Ms. Takako Doi and Ms. Mizuho Fukushima, Social Democratic Party. 

13 Explanation of this movement was made at the meeting of Department of Justice of Komeito Party. 

14 Meeting to prepare a draft of joint statement by the scholars and researchers for This movement. 

16 Started action to obtain agreement to the joint statement prepared by the scholars and researchers (result: over 150 scholars and researchers agreed Within a week) 

18 Made appeal to Mr. Yamade, Chief of Adjudication Dept. of Ministry of Justice and handed 110 group signature and statement made by supporting Lawyers group for this movement. Held Gathering to seek special permission for residence toward the 21 undocumented foreigners at the Assembly Hall of the House of the Representatives. 

Iranian family (F) granted provisional release and stated examination of violation (next step)_ 

19 Iranian family (M) granted provisional release and started examination of violation (next stop) 

20 Iranian family (T) granted provisional release 

21 Iranian family (B) granted provisional release 

22 Myanmar family granted provisional release Iranian individual (A.G.) granted provisional release Bangladeshi individual (A) granted provisional release 
(Note : Examination of violation were conducted for all persons and "Notice of Decision were issued) 

25. Visited Embassy of Bangladeshi in Tokyo and appealed this movement to the Ambassador. 

26 Hearing of (F) finished. 

27 Hearing of (T) finished. 

28 Discussion made with the chief officers of Investigation Examination and Inspection Department of Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau at Kita-Ku, Tokyo. 

30 Requested APFS members to join various urgent actions till November 30 

Petition for the movement requested to be sent to the Minister of Justice and to the Prime Minister by e-mail, fax or mail 

November 11 Submitted the signatures of the persons agreed to the joint statement of the scholars and researchers to the Ministry of Justice Press conference at Bar Association Hall 

18 The grandmother of Iranian family (M) finished Hearing All 21 persons are now finished Hearing 

21 Started collecting 270,000 signatures (first closing date is December 15) Street campaign for the signatures at front of lkebukuro station sponsored by the Steering Committee of Give Ordinary living in Japan to the 21 persons 9participated 11 groups including APFS : a little over 100 volunteers) 

December 11 Held International Symposium Japan"s Immigration Policy at the crossroads: Overstaying Foreigners and the Special Permission for Residence at Itabashi Kuritsu Sanbun Hall 

14 Questioned about 21 persons appeared at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau at Kita-ku by the diet member of Democratic Party. Mr. Tetsuo Kitamura at the Committee of Justice in the House of Representatives. 

Handed the questionnaire about 21 persons appeared made by the scholars and researchers group by the member of the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Nobuto Hosaka. 

15 Started National Caravan Campaign Tour to support the General Movement. Starting ceremony in front of the building of the Ministry of Justice The first deadline of collecting 270,000 Signatures and the second deadline is decided January 31, 2000. 

18 Participated in Migrant Workers Days Participated in the General Meeting of Rink 1999 

20 Submitted 5,300 signatures of 270,000 Signatures campaign collected by the first deadline to the Ministry of Justice 

28 National Caravan returned to Tokyo form nationwide campaign and meeting was held in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau at Kita-ku, Tokyo. 

2000 

January 15 Started urgent activities for ten days (as listed below) 

16 Collecting signatures in front of Oyama Station (Tobu Tojo Line) 163 signatures gathered (ten days urgent activities) 

18 Submitted An offer to relief Human Rights of 12 persons by the supporting lawyers group to Japan Lawyers Association. A sit-in protest by the 12 persons in front of the building of the Ministry of Justice to appeal all 21 persons would be granted Special Permission for Residence ( ten days urgent activities) 

20 Appeal activities in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau at Kita-ku, Tokyo ( ten days urgent activities) 

22 Signatures campaign at the street of Sunshine in Ikebukuro Gathered over 200 signatures (ten days urgent activities) 

23 Held meeting 21 persons 

24 A sit-in protest by the 21 persons in front of the building of the Ministry of Justice to appeal all 21 persons would be granted Special Permission for Residence (ten days urgent activities ) Enquiry to the Ministry of Justice concerning press release by the Kyodo on January 22 (the decision of the Minister of Justice for the part of 21 persons was released) 

February 2 The decision of the Minister of Justice was delivered to 6 persons out of 21 persons. The details are as follows. 

Iranian family (F), Husband 39 years old, Wife 37 years old, Boy 15 years old are granted special permission for residence (Status : long term resident period : one year) 

Myanmar family, Husband 43 years old, Wife 37 years old, Girl 2 years old are not granted. They were all detained. Requested them to be released provisionally, but the wife and child were granted. The husband was detained. 

4 Meeting by the supporting lawyers group 

9 The decision of the Minister of Justice was delivered to 11 persons out of 21 persons. The details are as follows : 

Iranian family (B), Husband 38 years old., Wife 35 years old Girls 16 and 9 years old are granted special permission for residence (Status: long term resident period : one year) 

Iranian family (M). Husband 39 years old, wife 36 year old, Girl 13 and 4 years old. Mother of the husband 68 years old are granted special permission for residence (Status : long term resident period: one year) 

Iranian individual (A) Male 34 years old is not granted. The reason requested to be granted special permission for residence is that it is necessary to go to hospital for a long period in Japan in order to receive medical treatment due to injured (hit a forehead strongly) while working hours. Requested a provisional release and permitted on the same day. 

Bangladeshii individual (M.A.). Male 29 years old is not granted. The reason requested to be granted special permission for residence is that the traffic accident was happened on the way home, and was injured head very seriously, and the very heavy damages are remained, and needed to have a rehabilitation in order to return to the society. Requested a provisional release and permitted on the same day. 

14 The last family of the 21 persons was delivered the decision of the Minister of justice as followed. Iranian family (T) , Husband 40 years old, Wife 30 years old, Girl 12 years old, Boy 5 years old are granted special permission for residence (Status : long term resident period one year) 

The above diary is only concerned about 21 persons appeared at Tokyo Regional Immigration at Kita-ku, Tokyo on September 1, 1999) 

#24-26 Oyama-Higashicho, Itabashiku Tokyo 
Tel +81-3-3964-8739/ Fax +81-3-3579-0197 
e-mail : apfs@jca.apc.org 
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