Opinion on the Creation of a New System for Immigration and Residence Control of Foreign Nationals and the Development of an Alien Residential Register System
February 19, 2009
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Currently, the Government, through the Ministry of Justice, is considering the creation of a new system where the Minister of Justice would continuously manage all data necessary for controlling the immigration and residence of foreign nationals and is going to submit a related bill to the Diet during its regular session in 2009. At the same time, the Government has asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Justice to consider having municipal governments maintain the alien residential register system.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) compiled its opinions with regard to these systems with the view of guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of foreign nationals, realizing a multiethnic and multicultural society, and guaranteeing the right to control personal information in modern society, at the Board of Governors meeting on February 19, 2009. The opinions were submitted to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the Minister of Justice on February 24.
1 Opinions on the Creation of a New System for Immigration and Residence Control of Foreign Nationals
- The government should carefully and thoroughly reconsider this new system to control the immigration and residence of foreign nationals taking into account whether there are any facts that substantiate the necessity of strengthening control and whether the control is the minimum amount necessary, including whether such a new system needs to be created.
- The JFBA recognizes the following problems with the specific content of the proposal:
- The scope of residential information to be submitted by foreign nationals should be limited to the items necessary to determine the renewal of their resident status;
- The JFBA opposes the issuing of "IC Residence Cards" (tentatively named) to all foreign nationals of mid- and long-term residence (excluding special permanent residents) and requiring them to carry their cards with them at all times under penalty of law;
- Even assuming that the Government issues certificate cards similar to the current Certificate of Alien Registration to special permanent residents, such residents should not be obliged to carry the cards with them at all times;
- The JFBA opposes obliging educational institutions to report information on foreign nationals to the Minister of Justice;
- All reference inquiries and sharing of information among administrative organs should require specific necessity and objective rationality for each case and each inquiry and/or provision of information should be done through an established method. However, first and foremost, an independent body to supervise the use of information should be established; and
- A new structure for the use of information by the Minister of Justice should not create a system which expands the grounds for cancellation of residential status.
2 Opinions on Alien Residential Register System
- The JFBA supports the plan to develop the Alien Residential Registers at municipal governments. However, the plan should be reconsidered from the standpoint that municipal governments must ensure that the fundamental human rights of foreign residents are equally guaranteed in providing administrative services.
- The Alien Residential Register System should be as follows:
- It should include, if necessary, foreign nationals who do not have legitimate residential status, including those who have been granted landing permission for temporary refuge or permission for provisional stay. At the same time, the state and municipal governments should not refuse to provide administrative services to foreign nationals who are not registered on the Alien Residential Registers; and
- The information on the Alien Residential Registers should be used solely to provide administrative services to foreign nationals and should not be used to control the immigration and residence of foreign nationals.