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Japan: Filipino girl sees her parents deported

All are equal before the law and in Japan, foreigners without a legal permit to stay must leave the country. Deportation is assured for any illegal immigrant.
This is what the Calderons are heading for. Arlan and Sarah Calderon, two Filipino citizens, illegally resident in Japan since the early 90s, will be deported to their home country on the 13th of April. They will be leaving behind their daughter Noriko, who was born in Japan, can only speak Japanese and has been raised in Japan like any other Japanese girl.

According to the Japanese law in the case of illegal migrants with a child, if the child is a junior high school student and it is established that the two parents have been working regularly for a long time, they can be granted a special stay permit. However, in this case, when Mrs. Calderon was found without a legal visa and arrested, two years ago, Noriko was still a primary school student.
For this reason, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, after having considered the case for a long time, gave the Calderons only two choices: to leave the country with or without Noriko. The parents chose the latter option and Noriko will carry on her life in Japan, living with some relatives, while her parents will be allowed to come and visit her once in a while.

When the decision was made public, one blogger personally called the competent authorities to get further information on this case.

おいたんは、東京入国許可局へ直撃電話を掛けて「本当にこれ以上延びないのか、本当にこれが最終結論なのか」という質問を投げました。

・これ以上はもう絶対延びません。
・家族が出した最終結論なのでこれは何があっても曲がりません。

だそうです。やっと終わりが見えてきたようで、おいたんもホッとしました。

I called the Tokyo Immigration Bureau myself and asked them “Is it really true that [the Calderons] visa cannot be extended? Is this the final decision?”
This is what they responded:
- It absolutely cannot be extended any longer
- Since this is the decision taken by the family, it cannot be modified in any way.
Finally, the whole situation seems to have come to an end and I am somehow relieved.
Immigration. By flickr user Icars

Immigration. By flickr user Icars

The Calderons case in the last months has drawn the attention of the international and national community, as well as of human rights NGO such as Amnesty International. The decision by the Japanese Ministry of Justice is not beyond criticism from a legal point of view, as it is held to violate the Article 9 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as many have pointed out insisting on the human side of this matter, which involves a 13 y.o. girl and the forced separation from her parents.

However the sentence seems to be in line with usual policy in Japan, known amongst democratic countries, as one of the least open in matter of immigration. Not a few Japanese nationals, despite being honestly sympathetic to Noriko, do agree [ja] with the authorities’ final statement, as it emerges from this entry by id: Keibi-in.

不法入国したフィリピン人の両親の間に生まれた女の子について、このところテレビが同情を誘う報道を繰り返しています。
私も心情的には気の毒に思います。
でもくだった処分が間違っているとは思いません。
どんなに冷淡に見えようと、曲げちゃいけない決まり事があります。
この場合がまさにそう。

Lately, TV programs have been transmitting regular reports that portray the situation in a sympathetic light to invoke compassion for the girl born of Filipino parents who overstayed in Japan illegally.
I also feel for her. However, I don't think that the sentenced is wrong.
Even if they may appear cold-hearted, I do believe that there are rules that should not be modified and this is such a case.

この例で言えば、このフィリピン人家族に特例を認めた場合、じゃあ他の同じ境遇の人はどうするの?ということになります。
全員に家族ぐるみでの日本滞在を認めるの?と。

If, the Filipino family were to be considered an exception, what then of other foreigners in the same circumstances?
Would you give a permit to be a permanent resident in Japan to all of them and their families?

[...]

言葉が悪くてすみません。
でも、これに尽きると思います。
女の子に同情的なことを言うなら、マスコミは彼女ひとりでも日本での生活がうまくいくように支えてあげればいいんです。

I'm sorry if my words sound offensive but I'll say only this. If they are going to lavish words of sympathy on the girl, the media should help her to live a good life alone in Japan.

Of course, the Calderons case is not the first one of its genre. In the past years, in fact, other families composed of foreigners living illegally in Japan have drawn media attention but Japanese reaction was different according to a blogger:

日本人は昔、もっとやさしかった気がする。
いいワルいはともかく、
こういうニュースには皆、もっと右向け右に、
「お上」にイジメられてる弱者を何とかしろ、って反応だった。
[...]
まあ今は、そんな余裕を持てないほどの不況なのかも知れないが・・

In the past Japanese were much more well-disposed, I think.
I'm not saying it is good or bad but in cases like this, whenever there is a weak party harassed from the “above”, they would have been filled with indignation and reacted. [...]
Perhaps nowadays, in this critical economic situation, Japanese people can't even afford to have that kind of reactions anymore…

なんか、テレビのコメンテーターとかにも今回、
「かわいそうだけど、しょうがない」
って感じの、クールなスタンスでいてたのが多かった。
いわゆる“いい子ぶりっ子”があまりいなかった。
そんなアピールなどあまり効果のない、
この国は、家族がバラバラになることに慣れた国民性になってしまっているのかも知れないと、ふと思ったりした。

This time, TV commentators are not very empathetic to Noriko, many of them commenting along the lines of “It's too bad for her, but nothing can be done about it”. This time almost no announcer tried to play the goody-goody.
What I have realized is that this kind of appeal has no effect anymore and people have become accustomed to seeing families separated.

The blogger, further in this post, quotes the comment of prof. Yamada of Chuo University (山田昌弘・中央大学文学部教授), whom he agrees with, and which perfectly sums up the feelings of many bloggers whose posts have been examined for this article.

法律論と感情論の対立であってはならないと思うんです。

違法であったにせよ、日本を選んで来てくれたんですから、
日本がいいと思って来てくれて、
日本がいいと思って暮らしてて、納税もちゃんとしてる。
特に誰にも迷惑をかけてるワケじゃない。
そういう日本を選んで住んでくれてる人を、
大事にするって姿勢を見せたいですよね、日本人としては。

I think that law and emotions should not be considered as opposed to each other.

Even if the Calderons overstayed illegally, they chose Japan which they considered a nice place to stay and they lived here and paid the taxes.
Besides, they haven't caused any trouble to anybody.
As a Japanese, I would like to show this as a country which takes into serious consideration such people who choose to live in Japan.

もちろん法律的には、違法だから、
何らかのペナルティーは当然だとは思うんですが、
是非、早く、日本に帰ってこれて、
一緒に暮らせるという道を模索して欲しいですね。

Of course, legally speaking they committed a crime, and for this it is natural that they should be punished.
However, I really hope that they can come back soon to Japan and find a way to live together [again].
  • http://www.inmediahk.net/user/84382/post Maconald

    I think Japanese govt has done the right thing. This is the parent of Noriko choose to punish Noriko. What could Japanese govt do when the Japan is held as hostage?

  • lmshea

    Phychological torture has been a time honoured past time by authorities for ages in Japan. They love the control and they are not about to show weakness with a sense of humanity, so no reconsiderations on humanitarian grounds or any other.

    Breaking up families and thinking abot what’s best for the children are not considerations are they?

  • Hirosuke Hyodo

    As a Japanese, I’m very sad and feel ashamed mostly of things related to the Noriko issue: 1) the government’s inhuman decision; 2) the minister’s sick-skinned usage of the words “humanity” and “leniency”; and 3) the heartless reaction to this by the people who believe they have omoiyari. Unless this issue is settled in a way that convinces the international community, Japan will be isolated anew.

  • Kanon Sirold

    Unfortunately her parents fault that she had to go through that.

  • http://absentia.tumblr.com/ Mr. Absentia

    I feel many people in Japan cannot still free themselves from authoritarian way of thinking. They think Japanese law must be strictly obeyed only because it is law, without considering its constitutionality.

    While the Japanese government is allowed to regulate people living in Japan, including foreigners, by implementing laws enacted in the Diet, the legislation and implementation must respect fundamental human rights enshrined in the Japanese Constitution and UN human rights treaties.

    It is apparent that the decision by the Japanese government violates UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Japan’s declaration on the article 9 is unacceptable. But people think they should obey the government without question, criticism or protest; so they say “しょうがない” (nothing can be done about it). For the Japanese, government officials are the Greek Gods who capriciously punish people.

  • PEEPSbunny

    I feel sorry for the child. Her parents were the ones who’s fault it is that this has happenned. Naruto did nothing wrong. Her parents are separating her from them, and when they had her they must have feared this would have happened. You should not find any sympathy for the parents.

  • http://www.inmediahk.net/user/84382/post Maconald

    I think it is decision of Noriko’s parent to separate them from their daughter. It is unfair the say Japan’s decision has violated the convention on the rights of the child.

    To comply with the convention, BOTH the parents and the child should be expelled. Noriko may stay with their parent no matter whether their parent are expelled or not. The point is, Japan has offered another option other than expulsion of BOTH parents and child, and the option is made at best interest of Noriko. Unless there is indication that the decision of Noriko’s parents is ill-willed or not at best of Noriko’s interest (based on reality that those parents must be expelled), the decision of Noriko’s parent did literally comply with article 9 of the convention.

  • The Observer

    The Gov’t of Japan has acted responsibily regarding the deportation of the Calderon couple. Each country has it own laws, whether it is immigration, taxation, terrorism, etc. which MUST be abided by local and foreigners alike. If we allow certain provisions of a law to be circumvented by public opinion and not on legal grounds, then implementing the law will always be jeopardized.

    For sure, this will be a divisive issue, which will not only resonate in Japan, but also to other countries (i.e. US, UK, etc.) that has large immigrant populations. It should serve as a lesson to all that pursuing better lives does not mean you have to disregard laws, and be prepared to suffer the effects should things don’t go the right way.

    Do not blame the Japanese Gov’t., in fact they have given the family due process to present their case. The Calderon couple have stayed in Japan for more than a decade, and had a long time to fix their immigration status. However, the parents not only violated Japan’s immigration laws, but also committed perjury and/or falsification of public documents in the Philippines (by obtaining an illegal passport), upon which the Phil. government must also look upon.

    The parents were aware of the possible consequences of their actions. They knew beforehand that Japan has strict immigration laws, and yet chose to violate it. Even using their child as an “anchor baby” is somewhat disturbing.

    The child is innocent on this case, but considering what happened, she should start preparing herslef for the eventuality that she may be sent back to the Philippines. Whether she claims she only knows Japanese language is true or not, she can enrol in a language school…and learning Filipino is not that hard.

    Sure, the parents left the Philippines to seek a better economic oppurtunity elsewhere. But this can be done on a legal way. On another perspective, the Philippines may be called a third world country, but it is not that bad…in fact if you work hard and live simply, you can earn a decent life. The Calderon couple can start anew in the Philippines, and this time they should do it the right way.

  • Asylumseeker

    This is quite a sad story, but as mentioned not a unique one. Indeed, one can expect many similar cases in the developed world. However, I do not understand why Japan is looked as a special country. I don’t think Japanese government acted inhumanely towards this little girl and her parents. They have to deal with thousands of similar cases… and yes Law is for all including little Noriko.

    I live in the UK for the last 8 years. Here words like immigrant, foreigner, asylum seeker are much disliked and thousands of illegals are deported every year… It’s not any better than in Japan that’s for sure.

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