ASIA/JAPAN - A petition to protect the lives and dignity of refugees and asylum seekers

Friday, 3 February 2023

Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - The Commission for Refugees and Migrants of the Bishops' Conference of Japan has launched a collection of signatures to draw public and government attention to the possible tightening of the Immigration Control Law. Such a law, according to the commission, "oppresses refugees and endangers the lives of those who do not yet have residency status". The Commission, along with six other civil society organizations, had previously spoken out against the immigration law that Parliament had already rejected in 2021 and that the Japanese government wants to reintroduce in 2023. The statement, which calls for "a society in which the life and dignity of refugees and immigrants are protected", recalls that this measure "was withdrawn once two years ago because it is contrary to humanity".
This new draft contains problematic provisions "that threaten the lives and human rights of many people". For example, it is stated that "the return of asylum seekers and refugees to their countries of origin is possible even if there is a risk of persecution". In addition, those would be criminalized, "who want to evade deportation and punish those who want to stay in Japan".
It also provides for immigrants without a residence permit to be locked up in places of detention indefinitely and drastically reduces the "special permit system", restricting the possibilities of re-entry.
Recalling that more than 100,000 signatures were collected from citizens against such a measure as early as 2021, the joint statement points out that the bill came after the high-profile death of a Sri Lankan immigrant, Wishma Sandamali, who was being held by the Nagoya Immigration Service was withdrawn.
Today, the generous help of many citizens and social institutions for Ukrainian refugees shows that "the exclusion of refugees is against the will of the people". It is hoped that "there will be no more victims of inhumane detention and that people, such as refugees, who are in a difficult situation will not be excluded". "The daily life of us citizens is made up of connections and relationships between people. Foreigners, Japanese, refugees, immigrants, residents and non-residents live together as people. We demand a society that respects the life and human rights of every person living in this society are guaranteed, where everyone can live in peace and where no one is truly left behind," the statement said.
On the other hand, the Catholic Commission and the other organizations ask the institutions to set up a special public legal and administrative body to deal with issues of protection of refugees and their integration into the social fabric. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/2/2023)