Social Issues

Japan approves controversial bill to reform immigration law

Tokyo, June 9 (EFE).- Japan’s parliament on Friday passed a controversial immigration bill that has been criticized by the opposition and human rights organizations for further toughening the already strict conditions for asylum seekers.

Japan’s upper house endorsed the bill with the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and its coalition partner, the Buddhist Komeito, as well as some other conservative opposition parties.

One of the main amendments is to allow the expulsion from the country of people who have applied for refugee status on more than three occasions. The Japanese system has until now not allowed for the deportation of people whose application is still in process.

In addition, it aims to reduce prolonged stays in detention centers, allowing people to reside outside immigration facilities under the supervision of a guarantor.

Opponents of the reform fear that it will result in the deportation of people at risk of persecution in their countries of origin, as well as the expulsion of children who were born or raised in Japan.

Critics also point out that many asylum seekers who have achieved refugee status in Japan, one of the strictest developed countries when it comes to granting this right, have succeeded after more than three attempts.

On the other hand, the bill offers a new “quasi-refugee” status that could allow people from conflict areas to remain in Japan, even if they do not meet the requirements to be recognized as refugees.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has unsuccessfully called for the creation of an independent body to oversee the process of granting refugee status conducted by immigration authorities, in order to ensure transparency.

Amnesty International also criticized the bill in its latest annual report, and denounced that Japan continues to subject undocumented foreigners to “prolonged detention and inhumane treatment in immigration control facilities.”

Japan granted refugee status to 202 people in 2022, including 147 Afghans, in contrast to European countries or the United States, which usually accept tens of thousands of refugees each year.

The country has an annual refugee recognition rate that does not usually exceed 4 percent of applications.

Japan normally grants people recognized with refugee status a five-year residence permit with the possibility of later applying for permanent residence if they meet requirements. EFE


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