Japan's Cabinet approves draft revisions to immigration law

The Japanese government has approved a draft of revisions to the immigration law and related legislation.

The draft of revisions to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act was approved at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. It contains some revisions that were included in an earlier draft.

That draft was submitted to the Diet but ultimately scrapped in 2021, after a Sri Lankan woman died at a detention center in central Japan's Nagoya City earlier that year. Japanese immigration authorities were criticized in the wake of the woman's death.

In the new draft, deportation orders will not be automatically suspended, if an individual is applying for refugee status for the third time or more. That provision is in line with the earlier draft. The government says some people who overstay their visas repeatedly apply for refugee status in order to avoid deportation.

The new draft contains a change regarding detention. People slated for deportation from Japan will no longer be detained until their departure dates. They will be allowed to stay with individuals who have been designated as supervisors by the Immigration Services Agency.

The draft also includes the launch of a new system. According to the system, people who are fleeing conflicts, but who do not meet the requirements necessary to be recognized as refugees, will be given safeguards similar to those that refugees receive.

Another change from the earlier version regards the evaluation of a person's detention period. A new system will require a review to be conducted every three months in order to avoid long-term detentions. The supervisors of people scheduled to be deported will also not be required to give regular reports about the individual. The earlier draft did require supervisors to file such reports.

The government hopes to have the revisions enacted during the current session of the Diet.