Last Sunday, the Ginza shopping district in Tokyo was occupied not only by the usual shoppers and vendors but also by a group of around 100 foreigners who were there for a different purpose. These people held a rally to request the government to grant them special residency permits as they have overstayed their visas.
Asian People’s Friendship Society organized the rally not only to as a petition to the government but also as a campaign to inform the Japanese of the 67,000 visa overstayers in the country and how much they have already been integrated into society. 34 of the foreigners are asking the government to review, and hopefully rescind, their deportation orders. Some of these have lived in the country for years, even decades, and all except two of them now have families, like 44 year old Iranian Abbasi Majid has stayed in Japan for 21 years and has an 11 year old daughter.
A number of these overstayers have children who were born in the country or spouses with current permits. Their deportation threatens to break their families apart, as in the case of Lal Dharamasiri, a 49 year old Sri Lankan from Ibaraki Prefecture, whose wife Peruvian wife has a permit to stay in the country. A 43 year old woman from the Philippines who has stayed in the country for 18 years has two sons aged 15 and 6, both of whom were born in Japan. Immigration has told them that only the older son can stay. The woman laments that it has been almost impossible to find a steady job without the special residency permit, and thus can’t acquire health insurance for her children.