Services for Migrants Expands in Tokyo

A Vietnamese refugee in Japan went to visit his sick refugee mother in the USA. The day after arrival, he suffered a serious road accident and broke his leg. He had surgery three times and while in bed his mother died. Eventually, he was able to move about using a wheelchair. He was denied renewal of his valid 3-year visa by the Japanese consulate in San Francisco, for the reason that he had to do that in Japan. After 6 months, he managed to get a tourist visa with the assistance of the Jesuit Social Centre. Personnel from the Centre then accompanied him to meet the same immigration official who had denied him the renewal of his visa. He is now happily married and safe with a new 3-year visa.

The Jesuit Social Center opened a new migration desk and the Tokyo Public Law Office inaugurated its Legal Assistance Section for foreigners.
A migration desk at the Jesuit Social Centre was opened and some valuable helpers are at work with Fr Ando Isamu (JPN). This desk will reprint a booklet on the situation of foreign workers in Japan that has sold more than 2,000 copies in 3 years, visit detention centers with the help of volunteer groups, look for and establish links with NGOs working for foreign workers, and run short seminars for training young volunteers. The small Academy (AIA) that the Centre had opened for migrants, children as well as adults, is running daily with the help of volunteers in a poor region of Tokyo. It is already in its 3rd year.

A Section of Legal Assistance for Foreigners was inaugurated at the Tokyo Public Law Office, with Masako Suzuki as its first head. The section will specialize in giving legal advice to foreign residents on both criminal and civil cases, ranging from refugee assistance and visa applications to divorcees and labor issues.

Suzuki also serves as secretary general of the Lawyers Network for foreigners, a group of 833 Lawyers nationwide working on various issues related to foreigners that was founded in May 2009. The attorney thinks that Japan has become more exclusive against foreigners recently, especially since the Justice Ministry launched a five-year campaign in 2004 to reduce the number of illegal foreign residents by half.


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