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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].

11 comments

  • Bouncebaby

    I think you people makes the situation too complicated. the problem with our laws today is that there are so many flaws in it. some laws were made decades ago which is not appropriate for the modern and present situation of our society. Some law just lack “common sense”, which the Japanese government undoubtedly demonstrated on this matter.

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