Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Noriko Calderon’s Case

"Despite being Japan's most densely populated area, Warabi rarely causes a blip on the national media radar.

"Set in a rusting corner of Saitama Prefecture, the city has two minor recent claims to fame: a communist mayor and the 13-year-old daughter of illegal Filipino immigrants.

"An odd place perhaps for two groups with radically different visions of Japan to take to the streets, but this is where neo-nationalists and liberal opponents could be found slugging it out last weekend.

"On one side, a party of nationalists crammed into a small park and listened to ringleader Makoto Sakurai, a rising new-right star who turns out for protests in a three-piece suit and watch chain.

""People in other countries are looking at this case very carefully," Sakurai told the crowd to cheers of "Send illegal foreigners home!" "They see that we are a soft touch. If we allow this girl to stay, many more will come. It's totally unacceptable."

"Some of the nationalists handed out copies of an article from a Manila newspaper "proving" that the case had received a lot of publicity in the Philippines. "Filipinos now know that if they have a child illegally in Japan, the child will win special rights," said Takehiro Tanaka.

"Hemmed in behind police with riot shields, a group of counterdemonstrators were kept half a kilometer away near Warabi Station. "They're racists," spat Ryo Hagitani. "Please don't mistake their views for those of ordinary people. Japanese people don't support them. We want foreigners to come here."

"Noriko Calderon, the unwitting target of all this attention, would have heard Sakurai from the cramped Warabi apartment she shares with her Filipino parents. But she was miles away with her mother, thanking supporters who had backed their fight to stay in Japan.

"Last month, the family's six-month legal battle ended when Justice Minister Eisuke Mori gave Noriko a one-year special residence permit, allowing her to live with her aunt and continue school in this city. Her parents, Arlan and Sarah, who came to Japan in the early 1990s on false passports, were sent back to the Philippines on Monday.


By David McNEILL (Japan Times, 4/14/2009), Link to article (last visited 4/15/2009)

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