Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation


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Hi Blog.  The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ.

The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate.  Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens).  Au contraire, they’re still part of what has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message.  It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again.  Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese.  There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children!

For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.


Left in limbo: Japan’s haphazard immigration policies, disrespect for human rights
April 19, 2019 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK

PHOTO CAPTION: Farhad Ghassemi’s father, Seyfollah Ghassemi, had been detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center, also known as Ushiku Detention Center, until his provisional release in October of last year. Pictured here at his home in Kanagawa Prefecture on March 12, 2019, Seyfollah says he is worried that his provisional release could be revoked at any time. (Mainichi/Jun Ida)

Japan is expected to see an influx of at least 340,000 people in the next five years, as a result of the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act that went into effect April 1. But are this country’s people, society and legal system ready for such a sudden shift? Foreign nationals who have already lived in Japan for years and their Japanese supporters cast doubt not only on Japan’s preparedness, but on its willingness.

【Related】Japan opens door wider to foreign workers under new visa system
【Related】Japan born and raised, boy of Iranian-Bolivian descent fights deportation order
【Related】Housing complex with foreign, Japanese residents provide model for a diverse society

Kanagawa resident Farhad Ghassemi, 17, was born in Japan to an Iranian father and a Japanese Bolivian mother. He’s an Iranian national, but the extent of his skills in Farsi and Spanish, his father’s and mother’s mother tongues, respectively, are minimal. He filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking, among other things, the invalidation of a deportation order that was issued when he was 6 years old. On Feb. 28, however, Presiding Judge Chieko Shimizu dismissed all of his requests.

Farhad was sitting in the gallery the moment the ruling was handed down. He cradled his head in his arms and did not move for a while afterward. “I was shocked,” he says. “I can’t help but think they’re just bullying us.”

Farhad’s father, 50-year-old Seyfollah Ghassemi, entered Japan in 1992, seeking work. Here he met Liliana, 50, and the two married. Their son Farhad was born in 2002. In 2009, the year after Seyfollah was arrested for overstaying his visa, the family of three was issued a written deportation order.

Farhad’s status until now has been “provisional release,” meaning he does not have a residence permit but is not in detention, allowing him to receive an education alongside his Japanese peers. The latest ruling has forced Farhad to enter his final year of high school not knowing what will happen to him, under an unauthorized status. He wants to further his education, but does not know how many universities here accept foreign nationals without authorization to live in Japan. Farhad appealed the district court’s ruling to the Tokyo High Court.

Farhad is naturally worried about what lies ahead. “I can’t plan my future,” he said.

This reporter has recently visited the family’s home in Kanagawa Prefecture. By the window was a photo of the family taken at an aquarium before Farhad had started elementary school. “Japan is the only place where all three of us can live together,” Seyfollah said.

Seyfollah is Muslim, while Liliana is Christian. In Iran, even the inter-sect marriage of Sunnis and Shias is highly controversial. Under Iranian law, Liliana would be forced to convert to Islam. Farhad, who does not follow any religion, would also be forced to become Muslim.

The Tokyo District Court acknowledged that there was a “risk of great loss” if Farhad’s request for permission to stay in Japan were not granted, because Farhad’s life was deeply rooted in Japan, both in terms of language and lifestyle. Moreover, the court stated that “the plaintiff could not be held responsible” for the fact that he has been on overstay status since he was 6 years old. And yet, the reasoning that is given for the government’s ultimate decision not to grant Farhad special residence permission is that it is “within the discretion of the government,” and is “legitimate.”

“This is the true face of a country that amended its immigration law to say, ‘Welcome, foreign laborers,'” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who witnessed the sentencing in the gallery of the courtroom. “For self-serving reasons, the state is trying to kick out people who have actually put down roots in Japan. It’s a complete contradiction.”

Yasuda writes about discrimination against foreign nationals and human rights issues in his latest book, “Danchi to imin” (Danchi apartments and immigrants). He points out that until 1992, the year Seyfollah arrived in Japan, Iran and Japan had a mutual visa waiver agreement in place. “At the time, micro-, small- and mid-sized businesses were highly dependent on Iranian laborers, making their presence crucial. Many people can probably recall the sight of many Iranian workers who, on their days off, would congregate at parks in Tokyo to exchange information,” Yasuda says. “The Japanese government was effectively giving its approval to Iranian labor.”

However, once Japan’s economy tanked, society’s anti-foreign rhetoric spread. It was against this backdrop, Yasuda explains, that the government beefed up its policy of urging Iranians to leave Japan. Meanwhile, the 1990s saw a surge in the number of laborers coming into Japan from Brazil and other countries due to relaxed visa requirements for foreign nationals of Japanese descent.

“(Farhad’s mother) Liliana, who is of Japanese descent, arrived in Japan in 1994. Families like the Ghassemis are precisely the result of Japan’s haphazard immigration policies. And now the children of the couples who met in Japan are being told to leave the country. The phenomenon is symbolic of Japanese society,” Yasuda says.

Once in Japan, Seyfollah experienced discrimination at the workplace when he was an automobile mechanic, and also in his everyday life. But he recalls that ever since he met Liliana, they “helped each other lead their lives in Japan, a country that was unfamiliar to both of us.” Reading the court ruling handed to Farhad, it makes one wonder whether foreign nationals who come to Japan are forbidden from falling in love or getting married depending on their visa status.

“Such bans actually exist in Japan,” Yasuda tells the Mainichi Shimbun.

Through interns with the Technical Intern Training Program whom he has interviewed, Yasuda has learned of cases in which bans on dating and getting married — regardless of the other party’s nationality — are clearly outlined in the interns’ workplace regulations. “It’s like middle school ‘seito techo’ (school rulebooks that most Japanese middle schools distribute to their students), but they’re forcing these rules on foreign nationals in their 20s and 30s,” he says. “One rule even went like this: ‘Conduct that could result in pregnancy is banned.’ Japanese employers think they can include such a rule in their work regulations if they’re targeted toward foreign laborers.”

At the same time that the amended immigration laws went into force in a bid to bring more foreign workers to Japan, the long-term detentions of foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas is a common sight at immigration detention centers across the country. As of the end of July 2018, of the 1,309 detainees nationwide, 54% had been detained for six months or longer. According to attorneys and others who provide assistance to foreign workers in Japan, 13 foreign nationals died by suicide or from illness while in detention between 2007 and 2018. Many detainees complain of appalling health conditions at detention centers, saying they are hardly permitted to see physicians.

A damages lawsuit brought against the central government at the Mito District Court for the 2014 death of a then 43-year-old Cameroonian man while he was detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Ushiku is ongoing. His mother, who resides in Cameroon, filed the suit.

According to the legal complaint that was filed, the man had been confirmed as diabetic after a medical consultation at the immigration center. He began to complain of pain in February 2014, and died at the end of March that year. Security cameras at the center captured him saying in English that he felt like he was dying starting the night before his death, and the footage has been saved as evidence. Even after the man fell from his bed, he was left unattended, and a staff member found him in cardiopulmonary arrest the following morning. He was transported to a hospital where he was confirmed dead.

“Immigration officials have a duty to provide emergency medical care,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Koichi Kodama. “The government should be accountable for revealing who was watching the footage of the man rolling around on the floor, screaming in pain, and whether anyone went directly to his room to check on his condition.”

There is no way a society that does not respect the human rights of individual foreigners and only sees them as “cheap labor” or “targets of public security measures” can flourish.

Says journalist Yasuda, “There are times when I wonder if Japan should be allowed to bring in foreigners, or has the right to bring in foreigners. At the same time, though, I believe that it’s a good thing for society that people with different roots live together. I think that the media should stop reporting on foreigners as people to be pitied, and not forget that this is a problem with our society.”

(Japanese original by Jun Ida, Integrated Digital News Center, Evening Edition Group)
Japanese version (excerpt)

外国人労働者は恋愛禁止? 場当たり政策が生む「悲劇」
毎日新聞2019年4月1日 東京夕刊

改正入管法施行 消えぬ不安の声


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8 comments on “Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Sadly, more unsurprising Nazi-era policies in 21st Century Japan.
    Again, it’s like the end of Atlas Shrugged; like begging someone to save you or you’ll kill them, Japan is begging NJ to come and work under inhumane preconditions in inhumane conditions. NJ won’t come in numbers large enough to save Japan because there are way too many countries offering EVERYTHING Japan is denying them.

    Unsurprising that the international community gives Japan a pass on this; they are sitting back and accepting visa applications from the best and the brightest who are passing on Japan.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    And if it wasn’t bad enough that NJ can’t bring their families and dependents when they come to work in Japan, and they are looking at max 5 year visas, the J-gov is now making the banking system do everything possible to stop them from sending any money ‘back home’.'l-transfers-to-counter-money-laundering-1

    Why come? They can’t put down roots, they can’t send money home. If they earn in Japan, they have to spend in Japan?

    It’s this kind of over-simplistic thinking that is demonstrative of policy makers economic illiteracy. But then again, these policy makers were elected due to their family names, not because they have any skills or experience relevant to governing.

    They want these NJ to work hard in fields, factories and Fukushima for 5 years, and then go home with no more money in their pockets than they day they landed at Narita. I can tell them right now why the whole scheme is going to fail.

  • realitycheck says:

    Thank you again to Dr Debito for fighting the good fight and keeping everyone posted regardless of whatever job we work at in Japan.

    These new workers will be the backbone of a rapidly ageing population at crisis point in the rural areas and in urgent need of their skills in construction, factories and other jobs requiring dedication and stamina. Yet their official treatment is so bad, we don’t have to guess their realities under employers in daily life.

    On this subject, recently I chatted to a Japanese hospital employee who told me about the foreign workers that come to their hospital with equipment-related injuries or those from falls, etc, and have no health insurance.

    They seem a good person but could not grasp the fact that this problem starts at the top – why are companies allowed by Immigration to bring in workers who are not covered by the Japanese national health insurance?

    In other words the companies are failing to provide half the insurance or failing to provide their foreign employees with the income that would allow them to pay kokumin kenko hoken. Or lying to Immigration and to their employees. It’s clear what is going on.

    Blame the victim. I recommended that their institution actually contact Immigration and ask why companies are allowed to bring in workers who then are permitted to work in difficult or dangerous jobs with no health insurance. Again I was met with blank incomprehension.

    Nearly every developed country that Japan claims to be and has legal foreign workers brought in under legitimate visa-bestowing programs necessitates that health insurance is provided by the employer. Japan’s failure here at the highest level reveals another facade covering a rotten, deeply rooted attitude.

    And I know this is off topic but while I am here, please mention Rui Hachimura who was drafted by NBA’s Washington Wizards. I have not seen any reference in the mainstream media in Japan including English media to his interviews in the USA where he called himself ‘Blackanese’ and referred to the discrimination that bi-racial children face in Japan. It’s not hard to see a link between lack of media attention and his forthright views.

    — Thanks for this tip. The Japan Times ran an AP article on him a few days ago, mentioning his self-label of ‘blackanese”:
    Also says: “The 21-year-old said he faced racism as a child, but added that the perception that Japanese people are racist is generally overblown.” So not so sure how forthright.

    JT article yesterday also calls him “a household name throughout the Japanese archipelago”, receiving “congratulatory messages from government officials, ordinary citizens and countless celebrities”. Even the Japanese Ambassador to the US commented about his contributions. And both articles mention the impressive number of corporate sponsorships rolling in.
    Ergo he’s well on the way to having “Nippon-Claimed” status, so, again not sure how forthright. It’s clear which side of the bread is being buttered.

  • Wasn’t this plan supposed to attract 10,000 people a year?
    It’s achieved less than 1% of that.
    But still, Japanese policy makers over rate Japans international appeal and apply draconian rules to applicants despite (yet another) failing to meet their goals in terms of numbers.
    But I thought there were hordes of NJ out there just waiting to overrun Japan?

    Robots aren’t smart enough and immigrants don’t want to come= screwed.


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