Japan "Justice" Ministry Tearing Japanese Children Apart From Gaijin Dad
A man with Japanese children has a right to be near to and support his children, and JAPANESE CHILDREN have a right to be near their father, which is guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
[The following story has been written by a friend of Kens, not Ken himself, who is now back in Pakistan. The events occurred in or around the year 2000. It has been given to CRN Japan to publish as an example of why Japan needs a Non-Custodial Parent of Japanese Child long term visa category.]
Do Japanese children who have a foreign parent divorced from a Japanese parent have a right for both parents to live in Japan? More importantly, how can a foreign parent provide food and other necessities his or her Japanese child if the foreign parent is forced out of Japan and repatriated to an impoverished developing country?
What follows is the story of a foreign man who has lived in Japan for the past 17 years and his struggle to continue living and working in this country where his two children are citizens.
Japanese Immigration officials have turned this man's life into a nightmare, forcing him to live in constant fear for the past three years and treating him like a criminal. Immigration, for its part, says it is only doing its job. But how is tearing a man away from his children part of the duties of the Japanese government? Animals are generally separated from their parents, but is this acceptable treatment of human beings in a so-called developed democratic nation like Japan?
This story begins in 1983, when 18-year-old Pakistani national Ken entered Japan on a tourist visa. Kent traveled in and out of the country when necessary to avoid overstaying his visa. In 1984, Kent had a son with a Japanese national. A year later the couple was married and they welcomed another child into the world soon thereafter. The marriage lasted 10 years until a divorce in 1994. That is when Kent's visa problems started.
Upon his divorce, Kent did not make any plans for handling his visa situation. He could have very easily postponed his divorce another year and applied for a permanent residency visa. Such visas are generally granted without question to people who have been married and living in Japan for 10 years. But Kent did not know very much about visa issues and, at the time, he was more concerned about straightening out his personal life.
When applying for a new visa, Immigration officials asked Kent why his wife was not serving as a guarantor. Kent answered honestly and unwittingly that he was separated from his spouse and that a divorce might likely follow. Immigration responded by giving Kent a one-year visa; they said it would be less if he were divorced.A year later in 1995, Kent had divorced and Immigration issued him a "long-term" visa of six months. It would be extended two more times for a total of three six-month visas.
On November 21, 1996, two days before his visa was to expire, Kent applied for his fourth six-month visa. His employer, Hiroyuki Murase, the owner of Journey Travel in Shinjuku, had filled out the guarantor form and affixed his registered stamp to it. Just as he had done each time before, Kent handed all the documents to Immigration authorities and received a slip of paper asking him to wait until he was notified by mail.
Unfortunately for Kent, he was fired from his job on December 6 following a dispute with his employer, Murase. Moreover, according to Kent, Murase phoned Immigration and attempted to withdraw his guarantorship, saying that Kent had forged the form and that he did not sign it. Later, when some of Kent's friends went to Journey Travel and demanded that Murase withdraw his untrue statements about Kent, Murase allegedly demanded a Y2-million bribe.
Immigration failed to notify Kent and advise him of the status of his visa application. Kent called Immigration to find out what was going on. He was told that there were too many foreigners in Japan. Then he was asked to wait a while longer. In February 1997, Kent was finally contacted by immigration. He received a postcard in the mail, which asked him to come down to Immigration in regards to the visa. On March 3, Kent visited the Immigration office in Otemachi, where he had submitted the paperwork. At that time Immigration officials told Kent that he needed to go to the Immigration bureau's facilities in Itabashi Ward's Jujo area, where the case had been transferred. Kent did not know it at the time, but Jujo is where the detention facilities of immigration bureau are located.
Kent arrived in Jujo just before 1:00 p.m. He noticed that most of the Immigration officials were having lunch. "Oh, you're quite late," said one official. Kent apologized and the official told him to have a seat. "We've been really waiting for you," he said.
Kent said he was escorted into a room just after lunch and interrogated for the next six hours by two officials. One yelled questions and accusations at him, while the other silently wrote down everything that was said. "You want to stay in Japan but you cannot!" the official barked. "You're not going anywhere. You are going straight to Pakistan from now. You're deported!"
Kent pleaded for permission to call a lawyer, but to no avail. The Immigration official continued his tirade, accusing Kent of committing serious crimes in Japan. "We found out that your letter of guarantor was forged!" the official screamed. "Mr. Murase said he did not give you any letter! You prepared it on your own! It's your handwriting!" Kent was incredulous and told the men that he had not forged anything. He said he could prove it because Murase's affixed stamp was registered with the Shibuya Ward office.
But the officials were having none of it. According to Kent, they continued to rant and rave and speak as though he had already been tried and convicted. The officials demanded that Kent recount his entire life history. What were the names of his parents, siblings and other relatives? Where were they now and what did they do for a living?
Several trips that Kent had made with his girlfriend were brought up. "We went there on vacation," Kent answered. "That's all." The officials accused Kent of spending large sums of money on the trips, implying that he ventured to Thailand for something other than rest and relaxation.
After 7:00 p.m., the grilling concluded and Kent was promptly locked up. He would not see freedom for another 42 days. During this period Kent was forced to sign a confession saying that he had "overstayed" his visa, but he had never overstayed a visa.
On April 15, 1997, Kent was finally released, but only after his Japanese girlfriend and several friends were forced to submit to several drastic conditions. Firstly, Kent's girlfriend had to pledge that she would marry Kent. Secondly, friends had to raise Y500,000 bail. Immigration initially demanded Y1,000,000, but later accepted half the amount when that was all that could be raised.
Kent was told that he did not have a proper visa, but that he was on a detention "furlough." He would have to report to the detention house once a month on the same day and at the same time. If he wanted to leave Tokyo, he would have to get special permission.
Kent started living with girlfriend, but the relationship gradually deteriorated. Kent felt she became domineering, so he moved out. He describes it as the best decision since he and his former girlfriend remain friends. She continues to help him when she can, but not to the extent that she wants to enter into marriage in order to solve his visa problems. Kent agrees.
As time went on, Kent diligently visited the Jujo detention facility as ordered, receiving a stamp each time on a card issued to him by Immigration. Kent then retained a lawyer named Yasuo Ogiue of Ogiue Sogo Horitsu Jimusho (Law Offices) in Suginami Ward at a rate of Y100,000 a month. Kent paid Ogiue a total of Y300,000. And what did he get for his money? In the end Ogiue's professional advice to Kent was "You need to find a Japanese girl and get married, and then I can get you a visa. There is no other way. Your case is just too difficult."
Ever since his divorce, Kent had been sending money to his ex-wife to support their children, who have been enrolled in international school. But the contributions gradually decreased as Immigration's unflagging pressure interfered with Kent's ability to find and hold a good-paying job.
In June 1999, Immigration summoned Kent to come down for a "final interview." Accompanied by his attorney, many of the same questions that had been put to Kent over the past four years were now rehashed. According to a very nervous Kent, his lawyer sat through the meeting quietly with his eyes closed half the time.
Immigration authorities once again accused Kent of committing a crime by violating Immigration laws. They said he had lied about his place of residence after checking with his girlfriend's landlord, who had said that he was no longer living with her. Kent says he never told Immigration that he was living with his girlfriend. However, she had submitted a paper to Immigration saying that he was. Immigration accused him of lying and "doing bad things again." It seemed that Kent's right to remain in Japan would totally hinge on his having a Japanese spouse and not on the welfare of his children. Moreover, Immigration had manufactured a "crime" to justify its desire to expel him from Japan.
At the end of the interview, Immigration ordered Kent to sign a paper saying that he would accept their judgment. Since he was out on "furlough" only by Immigration's benevolence, not signing did not seem like an option. Then Immigration said it was up to the Ministry of Justice and that they would let him know of the final decision in a couple of months.
Kent was becoming more nervous with each passing month, but he managed to get an introduction to an official in the Justice Ministry named Imokawa who was assigned to Shinpanka section. (Tel. 03-3580-4111, Fax. 03-3592-7971, ext. 2772). After looking at Kent's case, Imokawa expressed disbelief at his government's handling of the case and offered to help, in a telephone conversation with Kent. Before the introduction, a representative of Imokawa took 290,000 yen from Kent as some kind of "deposit."
But after several months, no action had been taKent. Finally, on June 16, 2000, when Kent made one of his regular visits to Jujo, he was taKent into custody and told that he would soon be deported. Friends frantically made calls on Kent's behalf, but were told by an Immigration official, Ms. Suenaga, that the matter could not be discussed with anyone but Kent's guarantor. Suenaga was then asked rhetorically if divorced foreigners with children by Japanese nationals have a right to remain in Japan in order to and support their families. Such judgments were rendered on a case-by-case basis, Suenaga said, before terminating the discussion.
Kent has lived in Japan for a total of 17 years and in that time, he had never once overstayed his visa, nor has he committed any crimes. He has two children who are Japanese citizens. He had done his best to provide for their needs, but his visa problems have severely interfered with his employment opportunities. At the time of this writing, Kent is unable to provide for his children because he is sitting in a jail (otherwise known to this point as a "detention facility") like a common criminal.
Though a Pakistani by birth, Kent has not lived in the country for over 20 years. He hardly speaks Urdu, the Pakistani national language, and he has no relatives in Pakistan. Japan is home. Kent has repeatedly said this. Japan is where his children are and Japan is where he has lived for the past 17 years. This is the case as presented to the Jujo Immigration officials who recently detained Kent for deportation.
Japan's Minister of Justice, Mr. Hideo Usui (Tel. 03-3508-7223, Fax. 03-3502-5081), has issued an order of deportation for Kent . According to a Mr. Takeda at the ministry, " is being deported because he committed a crime." Takeda would not explain what that crime was despite repeated requests. He would only say that Kent has broKent Immigration control laws. Takeda could be referring to the fact that Kent was found not to be living with his then-girlfriend in contrast to what had been reported to Immigration. However, the Justice Ministry refused to confirm this, only saying " has been informed of his crime."
Immigration officials in Jujo had said Kent is not allowed to talk to anyone but his guarantor. Journalists have been denied access to Kent, but people purporting to be his "friends" have been allowed 10-minute visits. Kent told one friend that he has no idea what Immigration is talking about with regard to "his crime."
Kent was making regular child support payments until immigration refused to issue him a visa and he had to start hiring immigration lawyers. You can't pay child support when you're in immigration detention. Then immigration used the excuse that he didn't keep up with child support as one of the reasons they should boot him out.
Most people in Kent's position with Japanese children would be deported only if they presented a danger to Japanese society. In the eyes of Kent's family and friends, this criteria has not been met as he has never committed any crime in Japan. To those who know him, Kent is anything but a criminal. Rather, he is just a man, who like most others, works hard and is a productive member of society. Like all other human beings he wants to remain near his children, to love and support them, and he feels that it is wrong to be forcibly ejected from a country after 17 years of residence.
Currently, he is back in Pakistan, an underdeveloped country where a month's wages equals a days work in Japan. The ex-spouse tries to keep the child away from him and he's not even allowed to enter Japan. When he left, he lost all of his possessions over 17 years and abruptly dumped back in the home country without a penny in his pocket and no family there. Right now, all he can do is focus on survival, and so it is now virtually impossible to re-establish ties with his children.
Note from author: This story is being circulated to create awareness of a great injustice and human rights violation occurring at the Ministry of Justice. All media organizations, as well as individuals, are urged to contact the Ministry of Justice, and ask them to explain and make public the government's action against Kent . There are no copyrights on this story. Please feel free to republish, rewrite or circulate it as you see fit.
Mr. Hideo Usui, Minister of Justice (outgoing)
Mr. Okiharu Yasuoka Minister of Justice (new)
Ministry of Justice
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0013
General Tel. 03-3508-4111
Mr. Usui's direct contact:
Tel. 03-3508-7223, Fax. 03-3502-5081
Official in Charge of Kent 's Case
Jujo Immigration Detention Center
United for a Multicultural Japan prepared a report that includes information on Mr. ’s case-
By: Imtiaz A. Chaudhry
UMJ NEWS Volume 2. cached version
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