Japan Puts Revised Immigration Law into Force

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japan put its revised immigration control and refugee law Monday, which marks a major change in the rules on detention and repatriation of foreigners without resident status.

The amendment introduces an exception to the blanket suspension of deportation implemented while applications for refugee status are being processed, allowing the government to deport third-time and subsequent applicants unless they have a valid reason.

The revised law, enacted during last year’s ordinary session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, is aimed at quickly sending back foreigners who have illegally stayed in Japan.

The previous version of the law stipulated no limit on the number of times to apply for refugee status. Some applicants abused the system by repeatedly filing applications in order to avoid deportation.

According to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan, the number of individuals seen as deportation evaders whose refugee applications were being processed had reached 1,629 as of the end of 2021.

The government decided to create the exception to the deportation suspension as it judged that the abuse of the system led to prolonged detention in immigration facilities.

The revised law also stipulates the introduction of a system to allow refugee status seekers to live outside immigration facilities under the supervision of relatives or supporters while their deportation procedures progress.

For those detained in immigration facilities, the agency will consider every three months whether to allow them to live outside immigration facilities under the supervisory system.

The revised law has triggered concerns that refugee applicants who need protection will be sent back to their home countries, where they may be persecuted.

“We will take strict action against those who violate rules while protecting those who should be protected,” Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi told a press conference Friday. “We will keep in mind (the revised law’s) intended purpose when enforcing it.”