TOKYO: An expert panel of the Japanese government Monday approved a proposal to introduce punishment of foreigners ignoring deportation orders, as a step to resolve the issue of prolonged detentions at immigration facilities.
The penalization is a key item in the recommendations approved by the panel, which discusses immigration policy issues for the justice minister.
The recommendations will be submitted to Justice Minister Masako Mori as early as next month. The Justice Ministry and the Immigration Services Agency will begin work to revise the immigration law.
At the end of 2019, 942 foreign nationals were staying in detention facilities after receiving deportation orders for reasons including illegal overstaying.
Of the detainees, 649, or about 70 pct, refused to leave Japan. Many cited reasons such as that they will fall into poverty if they return and that they have a family in Japan.
At the end of 2019, 1,054 foreigners were detained after they had received deportation orders or because they were waiting for government judgments on whether they should be sent back home. Of them, 462, or 44 pct, were detained for at least six months.
The recommendations cite the agency's view that long-term detention is problematic in terms of immigration control system management and the health of detainees.
The recommendations also call for introducing punishment of foreigners who ignore deportation orders and those who fled after being released provisionally during their detention.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of foreign detainees repeatedly apply for refugee status even though they know they have no chance of being approved, abusing a Japanese rule that applicants are not deported during their refugee application process.
The authorities should be allowed to deport foreigners who make applications with the same content repeatedly to seek refugee status, the recommendations said.