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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Degrading treatment at Narita immigration

"Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center" (Zeit Gist, March 9) by David McNeill:

First of all let me say that I am not trying to prove that what (West Japan Immigration Control Center detainee Moses) Ssentamu said was right or wrong, since there is still no concrete evidence. I am writing this simply to inform you that there is in fact a problem within Japanese immigration.

I studied in Japan recently to complete my degree. My mother, an Indonesian citizen, came to visit me often while I was in Japan. Every time she arrived she would stay within the time period allotted by immigration at Narita.

One time after a vacation, I returned to Japan with her. The immigration officer accused her of trying to stay/live in the country despite our insistence that she had never stayed over the time limit allowed by immigration. In the end she was sent home.

The story did not end here. The immigration officer took her and I to a room where he questioned us. He laughed and jeered at the fact that I did not speak Japanese very well. He also laughed at us when my mother cried because she was about to be deported.

In our culture, before our mother leaves it is a ritual to kiss her hand. Not surprisingly, the immigration officer again laughed at us doing this. This is our culture, our tradition, and he should learn to show some respect.

My mother was also taken to another room without me. She claimed that she was interrogated verbally and patted down "in case she was carrying any dangerous objects." Thankfully, she said, there was no violence and/or inappropriate gestures by the immigration officers.

Please do note that my mother is a housewife; she is as innocent as a child. All she does every day is cook and clean at home, with no thought at all of breaking any kind of law.

We had lived in several countries before I went to Japan. These included Singapore and the U.S. In both countries, as well as in our homeland, Indonesia, we have always been respectable citizens. We never even litter.

We were not seeking asylum or escape of any kind in Japan. We come from Indonesia, a peaceful, diverse country with rich natural resources. It is easier to live in Indonesia than in Japan, not to mention that we come from an upper-middle-class family here.

I do not mean to sound arrogant, but I just really want to emphasize that we had no intention of breaking the law.

There is definitely a problem within the Japanese immigration system. I hope The Japan Times can spread the truth so that the Immigration Bureau can learn to stop abusing its power.

EYYI Indonesia

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