Japan eyes charter flights to deport illegal migrants

Kyodo News

Posted at Feb 04 2014 05:36 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2014 01:36 AM

TOKYO - Japan's Justice Ministry is getting ready to charter planes to conduct group deportations of visa overstayers and other illegal aliens in fiscal 2014, continuing the practice it started the previous year because of cost efficiency, according to a ministry source.

Human rights activists say group deportations disregard the individual circumstances surrounding each person, while one of those sent home in such a manner has criticized the way deportees were treated.

The ministry is seeking appropriations under the fiscal 2014 budget for several charter flights.

According to the ministry's Immigration Bureau, previously, several immigration officers accompanied deportees on commercial flights, with fares paid in principle by those deported. The state, however, paid for those who refused to be deported.

Last year, 75 Filipinos were sent home on a charter in July and 46 Thais in December. Charter flights have cut deportation costs by up to half, according to the source.

While the bureau says no trouble was observed in flying those charters, some deportees were reportedly taken off a flight before departure because of violent behavior.

A group supporting foreign nationals in Japan criticized the ministry, saying that the deportees included "many people who had livelihoods in Japan," and that the measure disregards their human rights.

A Filipino who had been deported held a press conference in the Philippines and said deportees were handcuffed even when going to restrooms and that their treatment was inhumane.