Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules


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Hi Blog. Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules:  They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated.  Quite a few of not as many.  Very high percentages, even.

Well, how about that.  Glad this happened, and got some press too.  May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).  Arudou Debito

Foreigners held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012, courtesy of JK

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.

As of August 2011, a total of 167 foreign nationals were held for at least six months at immigration facilities in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, according to the Justice Ministry.

Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported to their native countries or undergoing procedures to seek asylum in Japan.

Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010.

The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited.

A large number of detainees staged hunger strikes as well, as a string of suicides ensued apparently over their dissatisfaction with how they were treated while in detention.

Support groups and lawyers’ associations have repeatedly called on the government to make improvements on the treatment of detainees.

Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews, the Justice Ministry has since adopted a policy to process them within six months in principle.

As a result, the number of cases without any decision to grant asylum after six months dropped to 35 as of March 31, 2011, a whopping drop from 612 at the end of June 2010.

Immigration officials also took an average 12.6 months to review asylum cases between July and September 2010 and 14.4 months between October and December 2010.

The periods were curtailed to 4.7 months and 5.2 months in the same periods the following year.

(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012

9 comments on “Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules

  • It is unclear whether this represents an improvement or the opposite.

    The article says:

    “Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported to their native countries or undergoing procedures to seek asylum in Japan.”

    So, these are foreigners illegally in Japan.

    Those who were detained were essentially all asylum seekers, as the article suggests:

    “Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews,…”

    It may be that Japan improved the speed of its asylum reviews while retaining as a constant the quality of such reviews.

    Yet, it may also be that some who truly merit asylum are being deported to face persecution or death, so as to improve the speed statistics of Japan.

    What the article does not state is whether the quality of asylum reviews has remained as a constant.

    As a logical matter, we must consider the possibility that asylum reviews have worsened, given the growing xenophobia.

    What is troubling is that a wealthy nation like Japan so often behaves inhumanely that one must consider that a reasonable possibility is that Japan has acted inhumanely in this instance as well.

    — I would agree. As I wrote in one of my Japan Times articles:

    The myopic state we’re in: Fingerprinting is but one sign of the government’s now undeniable xenophobia (Column 42 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column December 18, 2007)

    “Japan even refuses to fulfill simple obligations as a developed nation–not only because it won’t pass a law against racial discrimination. It won’t even take people who would come here no matter how poorly they’re treated. Despite being the third-largest donor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Japan accepted only 34 asylum-seekers in 2006 (compared to 23,296 in the US and 6,330 in Britain that year), and a total of only 1,975 since it signed the Refugee Convention back in 1951! Take our money, keep your aliens.”

    Rest at

  • I didn’t see any J media challenge the spin on this story. Reporters in other countries might write it like this:

    Japan Holding Foreigners in Jail near Fukushima Meltdown

    Tokyo —

    When thousand of foreigners were fleeing Japan after the nuclear explosions in Fukushima, Japan held many foreigners in a detention centre in Ibaraki prefecture, less than 200 kilometres from a meltdown at Fukushima reactors

    The Justice Ministry, which doesn’t allow journalists to visit detention centres, said in a statement on Friday that 167 foreigners had been held for at least six months from March to August, at three detention centres across Japan. Another 47 had been held in limbo for more than 12 months, the statement said, according to Kyodo News.

    One detention centre, in Ibaraki prefecture, is less than 200 kilometres from an ongoing meltdown at Fukushima reactors. It’s not known if the detainees suffer any effects from radiation. The report did not say how many foreigners are currently imprisoned in Japan.

    Amnesty International, citing Ministry of Justice statistics, says more than 7000 foreigners were detained at Narita in 2010, an average of about 20 per day.

    The Ministry said they have adopted a policy of trying to release detainees, who had overstayed visas or applied for asylum upon landing in Japan, within six months after their capture, according to Kyodo News. The Ministry claims the numbers are a significant decrease from the 612 foreigners who, as of June 2010, had been detained more than six months. The government took more than 12 months, on average, to decide cases in 2010, and 5 months in 2011, according to the report.

    Smaller numbers of foreigners sought asylum in Japan in 2011, due to radiation fears.

    Thousands of foreigners, known locally as “flyjin” (a cross between “fly” and “gaijin” or foreigner), fled Japan after the March 11 disasters. Kyodo News, citing Immigration Bureau statistics, reported that the number of foreign arrivals in Japan dropped by 24.4 percent in 2011 compared with 2010, meaning that 2.31 million fewer foreigners came for work or pleasure.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    Off-topic as an action but the mindset is related…

    And here I was thinking that some of the arguments against the Americans in Futenma were racist or prejudiced.

    “Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

    Racism panel asked to review Futenma plan
    GENEVA — Three groups have appealed to a U.N. racial discrimination panel to urge the Japanese and U.S. governments to reconsider their plan to maintain the Futenma military base in Okinawa.

    The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, a Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization, was among the groups that filed the request Friday with the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination over the planned relocation of Futenma within the prefecture.

    It is the first argument filed with the Geneva-based committee using the argument that the relocation plan constitutes a human rights violation.

    The U.N. panel is to hold a series of meetings through early March to monitor compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

    Although Japan and the United States are not subject to the review, sources said it is technically possible for the panel to invoke its emergency power to issue a nonbinding recommendation to correct a breach of the convention.

    Japan will also be the object of a review in October by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which periodically examines conditions in all U.N. member states, meaning the Futenma issue could come under U.N. scrutiny at that point.

    The three groups’ request argues that the presence of the air base constitutes a huge burden on Okinawa, which accommodates 74 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan while the prefecture accounts for only 0.6 percent of Japanese territory.”

  • @ John (Yokohama)

    What has happened to the standard of journalism? I can’t make heads or tails of that article. It says three groups have appealed to ask for reconsideration of the plan to MAINTAIN the Futenma base. Then it goes on to say the appeal argues that “the relocation plan constitutes a human rights violation.” Can anyone make sense of that?

    And it only mentions one of the “groups”, which, frankly sounds like an ad hoc association to me.

    Information-wise, that article is close to useless.

  • OK, well the IMADR is real (website here, but their website says nothing (that I can find) about the US base appeal.

    — IMADR-JC is a very real organization. I have worked with them for many years now and can vouch for their character.

  • John (Yokohama) says:


    The grounds for a claim based on racism is beyond me that I can see. Smacks of desperation to me.

    Originally it was suppose to be about safety but by opposing the move to a safer place and wanting it out of Okinawa altogether all they have managed to do so far is prolong the “unsafe” condition.

    No mention is made of the “burden” of receiving buckets of yen in return from Tokyo. No note is made of the strategic location, history, etc., which accounts for their greater share of military bases.

    Journalism in my mind would have them clarifying and reporting on what basis these groups are making a claim of racism and how that squares with laws (or the lack thereof).

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    “Japan unlikely to reach goal for Myanmar refugees

    February 17, 2012

    By DAISUKE FURUTA/ Correspondent

    MAE SOT, Thailand–Tokyo will likely fall short of its target of accepting 90 refugees from Myanmar (Burma) residing in Thailand as applicants have apparently been scared off by stories about the difficulties of living in Japan.

    Only nine refugees from two families living in Thai camps showed up for interviews here on Feb. 15 to determine if they are equipped to adjust to life in Japan. It was the smallest number yet for such interviews.

    This year is the last in Japan’s three-year “third-nation resettlement program.”

    So far, 45 refugees from nine families have settled in Japan under the program. If all applicants during the latest interviews are accepted, the total will represent only 60 percent of Japan’s target.

    Tun Tun, chairman of a refugee committee, said some of the first refugees who moved to Japan under the program have told their relatives in Thai camps that it is tough adjusting to Japanese culture.

    In contrast, more than 50,000 refugees from Myanmar have moved from Thai camps to the United States, which started a similar program ahead of Japan.

    Japan was not a popular destination in the first place because refugees have few relatives or acquaintances in the country, according to sources familiar with the resettlement program.

    In addition, developments in Myanmar are prompting refugees to change their minds about leaving.

    A plan by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to repatriate refugees to Myanmar moved forward after the administration of Thein Sein reached a cease-fire agreement with ethnic Karen rebels in January.

    Most of the refugees from Myanmar in Thai camps are Karen.

    Now, a growing number of refugees are hoping to live near the Thai-Myanmar border to prepare for their eventual return to Myanmar.

    However, some refugees are calling on Japan to continue the resettlement program.

    An estimated 130,000 refugees from Myanmar live in Thailand, but about 40 percent are not officially registered as refugees. The Thai government since 2005 has almost fully suspended refugee registrations, apparently fearing a further influx of refugees. Registration is a requirement for people planning to settle in a third country.

    Zaw Doi, an unregistered refugee, 40, expressed hope to apply for the Japanese program once Thai officials resume the registration process.

    Chairman Tun Tun also pressed for Japan to continue with the program, saying the situation after the cease-fire agreement is still unpredictable.


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