Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Filipinos in immigration row with Japan

"TOKYO (AFP) — A Filipino couple in Japan said Friday they would obey a deportation order but leave their 13-year-old daughter behind in an immigration row that has drawn wide public sympathy for the family.

"The couple is being forced to leave because they entered the country on false passports in the early 1990s, but they had pleaded to be allowed to stay so their Japan-born daughter could finish her schooling in the country.

"The government has allowed the daughter, who speaks only Japanese, to stay on humanitarian grounds but warned it would deport all three unless the parents agreed to leave voluntarily.

"On Friday the father, Arlan Cruz Calderon, 36, said he and his wife, Sarah, would leave Japan on April 13 but allow their daughter, Noriko, to a stay behind in Japan in the care of a relative of his wife.

""I have never lived away from my parents, so I feel anxious about it," Noriko told a press conference while choking back her tears.

"The case has drawn intense media coverage in Japan, and more than 20,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to allow all three to stay.

"The father, who was detained this week but temporarily released, said, "I hope some day all three of us can live together again in Japan -- quietly."

"The family's lawyer, Shogo Watanabe, said: "I regret this result.

""I regret that the immigration office could only present such a concession in exchange for the parents' decision to return."

"Watanabe said it was an agonising decision for the parents because "they had to avoid the possible detention of the daughter no matter what."

"Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, in charge of immigration matters, told reporters that the government had done its utmost to help the family.

""I am responsible for protecting Japan's public safety and social order," he said. "Despite my sympathetic feelings, I had to consider many elements. I have dealt with the case with ample consideration."

"The case has attracted the attention of Amnesty International as well as the UN Human Rights Council, which has asked Japan for information about it.

"Major newspapers have urged leniency for the family.

"An editorial in the Nikkei business daily called on Mori and Prime Minister Taro Aso "to make a decision so the family can stay here."

"The Mainichi Shimbun also backed the family, saying: "Japan should create a rule to start legally accepting foreign residents like the family, who have worked and studied at schools, with no links to criminal groups.""

By AFP (3/13/2009), Link to article (last visited 3/15/2009)

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