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“Live Together” Declaration of 10,000 persons

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Inadequacies of Japan’s Human Rights Law System

Today there are more than 2.1 million foreign residents living in Japan. The number of countries and regions from which registered foreigners come are as many as 190, which means that people come from every corner of the globe to work and live in Japan. Furthermore, there are growing numbers of “Japanese nationals” who now have roots in foreign lands , that is, foreigners who have acquired Japanese nationality and bicultural “double” children, whose parents were united by international marriage. In these and other ways, Japan is evolving toward a “multi-ethnic, multi-cultural” society.

However, Japan has not yet established a human rights law system like those in many other countries. For example there is no domestic institution for the protection of the most basic human rights, no law against racial discrimination, no right for foreigners to vote in municipal elections, no law or institution to support multi-cultural families, and no right to hold plural citizenships.

Thorough Overhaul and Corruption of Japan’s System for Control of Foreigners

Meanwhile, revised laws of the Immigration Act, the Special Immigration Act and the Basic Resident Registration Act will come into force from July 9 of this year and, with this, the Alien Registration Act will be abolished.

Until now, under the Alien Registration law, all foreigners staying in Japan longer than 90 days were subject to the Law. However, the revised laws will create a new category, called “Medium to Long-term Residents,” dividing foreigners into “Special Permanent Residents,” “Medium to Long-term Residents” and “Persons with No Status of Residence,” to create a legal system under which “Special Permanent Residents” are controlled in the same manner as before, “Medium to Long-term Residents” are controlled more thoroughly than before and “Persons with No Status of Residence” are excluded more thoroughly than before.

Concerning Medium to Long-term Residents (approximately 1.7 million people), a variety of new control systems will be introduced, which will place their daily lives under thorough surveillance. For example, if one fails to report a change of residence within 14 days, current law states, “administrative penalty under the current Basic Resident Registration Act: payment of a fine up to \50,000” even for a Japanese citizen, yet, in actual practice, most infractions like this are resolved by filling out a one-page incident account. But in the case of a Medium to Long-Term Resident foreigner, there is an additional “criminal penalty under the Immigration Act: Payment of a fine up to \200,000,” and if the residence change is not reported within 90 days the penalty is “revocation of residence status under the Immigration Act (i.e. deportation).” The government of Japan has a duty to indicate rational bases for this “compounded penalty system.” But neither the legislative branch nor administrative branch of government has provided the grounds, or theoretical bases, to explain and justify the different treatment of foreigners and Japanese over the same administrative infraction.

Revised Laws that Deprives “Respect as Persons” from Foreigners

Among the notations that will be printed on the “Residence Card,” which Medium to Long-term Resident foreigners will be required to carry at all times instead of the current “Alien Registration Card,” there is a section concerning “recognition / nonrecognition of working.” In a line-encircled box at the center of the card’s front side, one of the following 3 notations will appear in bold type: 1. “recognition of working”; 2. “nonrecognition of working”; 3. “conditions of working per status of residence.” The creation and notation of such an item, rather than treating foreigners as “human beings” or “living persons,” is based on the concept that foreigners are either a “labor commodity” or not. This is an affront to the “human dignity” of every foreigner, who lives in Japanese society and constitutes “local community” together with Japanese people.

Let us consider high school students with foreign nationality who arrive at their 16th birthday. Many of these students, who hold residence status as “Permanent Resident,” “Long-term Resident,” or “Dependent,” will have to take time out of school before their 16th birthday to visit a regional immigration office, receive a residence card with their own photograph, and carry this at all times. Furthermore, on this card there will be a notation that states, “recognition of working” or “nonrecognition of working,” depending on their residence status. In addition to this, a high school student whose status is “Dependent” cannot take a part-time job unless they apply separately to the regional immigration office and gain “permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under status of residence.”

The revised laws will require 16 year-old youths to carry such a card at all times, and force them to repeat finger-printing and photo-taking each time that they re-enter Japan (except during school trips). A government that thrusts such requirements on 16 year-old youths is truly abhorrent. It is the people and society of Japan that supports these revised laws.

We are Collaboration Partners to Build a “Multi-ethnic, Multi-cultural Society”

We say “NO!” to the revised laws that are to be implemented from July 9.

This is because we are:

Youths who live in the Tohoku disaster region, who have given up on university and lost our hope;
Women of foreign nationalities, who have lost husbands and are in despair;
North and South Koreans and Taiwanese persons, who remain discarded with no pension or social security;
Migrant women, who cower in fear of violent spouses, with no means of escape;
Migrant laborers, who have been cut off from work because of the earthquake disaster or the financial crisis;
Refugee applicants who came to Japan to flee persecution, who have received neither shelter nor food nor clothing, but have been temporarily released to fend for ourselves;
Young children, who, unable to attend Japanese or international school, spends every day watching the TV screen alone; and
People, who cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that most Japanese do not know about this reality, or feel powerless to change it, and want to live happily together with all foreigners in Japan.

We are all human beings, who work and live together in this land, in this society.
We say “NO!” to the revised laws.
We declare our commitment to strive together to build a society in which “respect for the person” lives and shines, and to work together toward a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society in which every person can live together.

July 7, 2012

Organizations in charge
Network for Human Rights Legislation for Foreigners and Ethnic Minorities
Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan
National Christian Coalition for Basic Law on Foreign Residents(Gaikikyo)

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For the whole document(pdf)
“Live Together” Declaration of 10,000 persons (full text)
Declaración por la Convivencia(Español)

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