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Friday, April 17, 2009
DPJ slams strict bills on foreign residents
A Democratic Party of Japan legal affairs panel has drafted proposals to soften the rules and punishments stipulated in government-sponsored bills to tighten immigration regulations on foreign residents, DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa said Thursday.
The panel called for eliminating eight provisions in the bills, including one that would oblige foreigners to always carry residency cards, Hosokawa told The Japan Times.
These cards, called "zairyu," would replace alien registration cards if the bills now before the Diet are passed. Foreigners are currently required to carry their alien cards at all times, but unlike at present, a failure to carry the zairyu could draw a ¥200,000 fine. Also subject to the fine would be failure to promptly report changes in personal information, including residential address, place of employment or marital status.
"The control (over foreign residents) is too tight" in the bills, said Hosokawa, who is the justice minister in the DPJ's shadow Cabinet. Under the proposed system, resident registrations would be handled by the Justice Ministry, not the municipalities where people live.
The bills to revise the immigration law, which were submitted to the Diet in March, have drawn fire from foreigners, lawyers and nonprofit organizations, who complain the proposed stricter monitoring is a violation of human rights.
The panel also rejected language in the bills to strip foreigners of their residency status for failing to report new addresses to the government after a move.
Another factor drawing flak pertains to cases in which foreigners with a spouse visa move away from their spouses, and thus fail to maintain "a normal married life."
While critics acknowledge that living separately cannot be considered normal married life, they argue, for example, that many foreign wives who are victims of domestic violence have no other choice but to change their residence.