Activists oppose revision to Japan immigration law

Activists supporting those seeking refuge in Japan say a government plan to revise the country's immigration law would constitute a human rights violation as it would enable forced repatriation.

Activists and lawyers raised concerns about the planned revision at a news conference on Wednesday.

The plan is in response to an increase in the number of foreigners who are detained at immigration facilities for overstaying and other reasons and refusing to be sent home, resulting in their prolonged stay there.

The revision would allow detainees to stay with family members or supporters if they are unlikely to escape or meet certain other conditions.

The revision would also enable Japanese authorities to forcibly repatriate those who have applied for refugee status three times.

The activists and lawyers said people who came to Japan fleeing civil war or persecution in their home countries are at risk of being killed if sent home, and that this is a serious violation of human rights.

They said they strongly oppose the legal change, pointing out that Japan's refugee acceptance rate is low compared to the United States and European countries, at 0.4 percent.

A woman from Myanmar's Kachin ethnic minority is waiting to hear from authorities about the fate of her third refugee application. She said she came to Japan because her life was really in danger in her country. She said returning home would mean her death.