Statement on a Bill to Revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and Other Related Acts to Strengthen Residential Control of Foreign Nationals
The Diet began debating a bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Immigration Act) and other related acts, which will consolidate and strengthen immigration and residence control of foreign nationals into the State.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has been expressing its opinions on the strengthening of immigration and residence control of foreign nationals from the standpoint of protecting the rights of foreign nationals and creating a multiethnic and multicultural society. The JFBA also points out the following major problems with the proposed bill:
- The bill abolishes the current alien registration certificates and replaces them with the Zairyu cards (IC residence cards) for foreign nationals who are mid- or long-term residents and the special permanent resident certificates for special permanent residents. Foreign nationals are required to have their cards/certificates with them at all times under penalty of law (mid- or long-term foreign residents who fail to carry their Zairyu cards are especially punished). Obligating all mid- and long-term foreign residents, including special permanent residents, who are from former Japanese colonies and have been living in Japan since before the World War II and their descendants, and other general permanent residents to always carry their cards/certificates is an excessive burden for them. In addition, such a system to monitor all foreign nationals could facilitate discrimination and prejudice against them. Therefore, the JFBA opposes obligating foreign nationals to carry their cards/certificates at all times.
- With respect to the Zairyu cards and the special permanent resident certificates, ID numbers will be recorded both on the surface of the cards and their embedded IC chips. There are no restrictions on accessing or using the ID numbers and thus the ID number can be used as a master key to collect and use all the personal information of a foreign national. At the very least, rules should be established to protect the personal information of foreign nationals to the same extent that the Act of the Basic Resident Registers protects identifiable personal information, including resident resister code numbers.
- Organizations, including schools to which foreign nationals belong, will be required to report to the State when a foreign national joins and leaves an organization as well as providing other related information. However, a system such as this that makes it possible for the State to require organizations to report a wide range of information violates the academic freedom and the right to privacy of foreign nationals.
- When a spouse of a Japanese national “has not been acting as a person with the status of spouse for three months or longer”, his/her spouse visa could be canceled. However, spousal status can also be withdrawn from those who have no other choice but to live separately because of the unfaithfulness or domestic violence of the Japanese national husbands/wives. The system will significantly weaken the position of the foreign national spouses.
- The government explains that under the revised acts foreign nationals will also be registered in the Basic Resident Register in order to improve administrative services for them. The JFBA welcomes this policy and further requests that registration not be limited to mid- and long- term residents, special permanent residents, and those with a temporary asylum permit or provisional stay permit, but that at least those with provisional release status be included as well.
The JFBA opposes enacting the bill without solving the above mentioned problems, and urges the Diet to carefully deliberate on this bill which requires fundamental modifications.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
April 24, 2009