Statement: We strongly condemn approval and enactment of bill to revise immigration law at House of Councilors

June 9, 2023
Tsuyoshi Masuda
Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions

The House of Councilors approved and enacted a bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law at its plenary session on June 9 with support from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komei Party, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), and the Democratic Party for the People. The Constitutional Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi, and the parliamentary group “Okinawa Whirlwind” opposed the bill.

The Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions furiously protests against the passage and enactment of the bill proposed by the government.

During Diet deliberations, serious issues of the proposed amendment were revealed one after another. The government insisted that asylum processing is properly conducted and that no refugees would be disqualified from the status and deported. As one of the grounds for allowing the repatriation of asylum seekers, the government cited remarks of Fusako Yanase, an advisory examiner for refugee applications, who said that it is almost impossible to find refugees. However,it was revealed that the examiner had spent only about 30 days processing more than 1,000 complaints a year,highlighting the extremely sloppy examination process at the Immigration Bureau and undermining the legislative fact.

With serious flaws in the refugee recognition system, Japan’s refugee status determination rate is extremely low, around 1%. Those who should be recognized as refugees clearly fail to receive such recognition.

Our own survey on medical care services for foreigners revealed that foreigners on provisional release while applying for refugee status are not guaranteed their basic human rights as they are excluded from all social security programs,prohibited from working, and unable to receive medical care. The survey received many cases in which foreigners who risked their lives to flee to Japan from persecution or torture in their country of nationality are not recognized as refugees
here even though they applied for such status. If Japan deports those who have applied for refugee status more than three times as the government’s amendment suggests, they could be persecuted, detained, or even killed in their destination.

The inhumane amendment that violates international human rights law will never be accepted based on the protection of human rights that the international community has reached. We demand that the immigration law be amended to ensure that the human rights of foreigners, including the right to receive medical care, are guaranteed in accordance with international human rights standards. We firmly oppose the deportation of those who are applying for refugee status,which could lead to the loss of their lives.