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SOCIETY > Human Rights

Revised law seeks to secure full-time doctors at immigration facilities

  • August 11, 2021
  • , Yomiuri , p. 3
  • JMH Translation

By Yoda Kazusa, political news department


A bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law was not passed during the previous regular Diet session due to the opposition bloc’s all-out resistance as it pursued an inquiry into the death of Wishma Sandamali [of Sri Lanka]. A senior official of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) underscores, “The revision was necessary because it included measures that will prevent more deaths at immigration facilities.”


The revised law was intended to resolve the prolonged detention of foreign nationals who had been ordered to leave Japan. It focuses on setting up a measure to allow such foreign nationals to live outside immigration facilities under a “supervisor” such as a relative approved by the Immigration Services Agency and formulating a rule for the deportation of those who have applied for refugee status more than three times.


As for the prevention of the recurrence of incidents similar to Wishma’s case, the revised bill includes a provision for easing the requirements for outside employment stipulated in the National Public Service Act to secure full-time doctors, whose number is insufficient at immigration facilities across the nation.


According to the Immigration Services Agency, as of Aug. 10 only one Japanese immigration center had a full-time doctor. Immigration facilities were originally intended to accommodate foreign nationals ordered to leave Japan shortly, not for a long period of time. But there are cases where detainees fall ill during prolonged detention. A senior official of the agency says, “Improving the medical care system is a pressing issue.”


As for the temporary release system that allows detainees to temporarily live outside immigration facilities, the revised bill tried to clarify the criteria by limiting the application of the system to detainees who are sick or need humanitarian consideration so that a temporary release is properly recognized for ill detainees.


The revised bill is expected to die in association with the dissolution of the Lower House. But the government is poised to submit the bill again for early passage.  


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