Pinoy deportees call on Japanese gov't to let them return

By Ronron Calunsod, Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 26 2013 08:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2013 04:05 AM

MANILA - Several of 75 Filipinos who were deported from Japan early this month for violating immigration laws expressed hope Friday the Japanese government will allow them to return on humanitarian grounds.

A 31-year-old male said he feels emotionally drained by his ordeal and misses his Filipino partner and their baby, who remain in Japan.

Officials detained him for over a year for overstaying in Japan and deported him July 6 along with 74 other Filipinos.

"I'm always sad. My mind is always blank. I don't know what to do and I also can't do anything. I always think of my family," the man, who asked not to be identified, told Kyodo News.

Japanese immigration officers arrested him for unauthorized stay at his residence in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo in May 2012.

He arrived in Japan on a tourist visa in October 2005 and failed to leave the country when it expired because he had found a job at an auto parts manufacturing company.

He and his 27-year-old Filipino partner, a long-term resident of Japan due to her previous marriage to a Japanese, had been planning to get married to legalize his stay in Japan when immigration officers caught him.

The couple's child was born a month before his arrest.

"My only reason for wanting to go back to Japan now is really for my family. It's so hard living away from them. It's not so much about the economic opportunities there," said the man who now lives with a sibling in the Manila suburb Valenzuela.

Appealing to the Japanese government to show mercy, he said Japan should not feel threatened by his stay because "I never committed a crime."

"My reason is my family. I have not violated any other laws except that I'm an overstaying alien. So, I hope Japan will be kinder to us. Japan for now is my home because that's where my family is," he said.

A 53-year-old deportee, who also has a Filipino partner with permanent resident status in Japan, shared the same sentiment and hope.

"I want to go back to Japan because my family is there. My (partner) lives there, with her two kids (from a previous marriage). I want us to live together there," he said.

The man said he laments being deported before the six-month period to contest his deportation expired.

He had been living in Japan for 24 years when he was arrested. The deportation order was issued in February.

He said he planned to contest the order on time, preparing to marry his partner, which would have helped him legalize his status in Japan.

"I feel annoyed about my deportation because I think it is very inconsiderate of them to deport me despite my manifestation that my partner and I were already planning to get married. It really pains me," said the man, who no longer has close family members in the Philippines.

Jotaro Kato, a representative of the nonprofit organization Asian People's Friendship Society who is monitoring the situation of the 75 Filipino deportees, said that under Japanese law first time deportees from Japan cannot return to the country for five years.

He added special landing permission can only be issued for those who "have a married partner or children in Japan," allowing them to return to the country earlier.

Kato said it might be possible for the two men to be reunited with their partners in Japan since both said they would get married, adding their partners will have to work doubly hard to raise more money to convince Japanese officials they could support their husbands.

"This strict forced deportation is a sad policy because it causes the separation of family members," Kato said.

He also found the recent chartered flight arrangement for deportees, the first from Japan, a worrisome development because "it's like a black box where no one can see what's happening inside."

Japan deported the Filipino overstayers aboard a chartered plane in early July to avoid the expense of individual enforced repatriations, some claim.

Kato said male deportees were handcuffed during the flight, forced to wear them during meals and in the bathroom.

He said once he completes his research on the deportees, he will prepare a formal complaint and submit it to the Japanese Ministry of Justice.

One of the cases he wants to highlight includes that of the 53-year-old Filipino who was denied the right to a fair trial.

He also called on the Philippine government to deliver on its promise to help the deportees reintegrate into society and find jobs.

According to the Philippine foreign affairs department, more than 100 Filipinos are detained at Japanese immigration centers awaiting deportation.

According to Japanese government estimates, 5,700 Philippine nationals live in Japan without proper documentation, making them the third largest group in Japan to violate immigration laws, after Chinese and South Koreans.