Can Undocumented Immigrants Become Naturalized Japanese Citizens?

SurajAnonymous student post

In March of 2010, a Ghanaian national, Abubakar Awudu Suraj, died as he was being escorted by immigration officials to a private jet at Narita airport for deportation; he had asphyxiated due to the immigration officials’ negligence. The Japanese immigration officials had tied his arms and legs, and stuffed a towel in his mouth, thus suffocating him (The Economist 2010).

Suraj had been detained in 2006 after he was discovered by the Japanese police for overstaying his tourist visa. At the time of arrest, Abubakar had lived in Japan for about twenty-one years, had a Japanese partner he subsequently married while in immigration detention, fluently spoke the Japanese language, and had a sustainable income from working at a metal plating factory, recycling and clothing sector, as well as painting for a magazine, illustrating posters and CD jackets. (Jacqueline Andall 2014). Why wasn’t Suraj considered for naturalization, or at the very least, a special residency Permit (SRP), which is granted arbitrarily to immigrants under such circumstances? According to article 5 of the Nationality Law by the Japanese Ministry of Justice, an alien is eligible for naturalization if:

suraj2…he or she has domiciled in Japan for five years or more consecutively;…he or she is twenty years of age or more and of full capacity to act according to the law of his or her home country;…he or she is of upright conduct;…he or she is able to secure a livelihood by one’s own property or ability, or those of one’s spouse or other relatives with whom one lives on common living expenses;… he or she has no nationality, or the acquisition of Japanese nationality will result in the loss of foreign nationality;…he or she has never plotted or advocated, or formed or belonged to a political party or other organization which has plotted or advocated the overthrow of the Constitution of Japan or the Government existing thereunder, since the enforcement of the Constitution of Japan. (Ministry of Justice, no date)

Basing on Article 5 of Japan’s Nationality Law, Suraj was a perfect candidate for naturalization, even though he was an undocumented immigrant. The only clause that might have deterred his claim to naturalization is that an applicant has to be of upright conduct, and undocumented immigrants are often perceived as dishonest and problematic. Ultimately, the final verdict on who qualifies as a naturalization applicant is always left to the Minister of Justice, and it is likely that illegal immigrants might not be considered.

Many cases involving undocumented immigrants in Japan have arisen in previous years that have attracted the attention of the international community and shed light on Japan’s problematic immigration policies. For example: the case of Fida Khan, a teenager born in Japan but facing deportation together with his Pakistani father and Filipino mother who entered the country without proper visas; and Noriko Calderon, a girl born in Japan to undocumented immigrants from the Philippines who were apprehended by immigration authorities after having lived in Japan for 16 years.

It is my humble view that Japan needs to amend its immigration policies so as to clearly state under which circumstances undocumented immigrants qualify for naturalization or permanent residency. I also think that Japan needs to open up its borders and promote migration into the country in order to solve the labor shortage problem that is arising due to low birthrates and an aging population. It is clear that Japan needs foreign assistance in terms of migrant workers if it is to compete favorably with other developed countries to maintain its economic growth and development.


Andall J. (2014). Deported from Japan: until death do us part.

Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). The Nationality Law.

The Economist. (2010). A nation’s bouncers: A suspicious death in police custody.

Undocumented Immigrants in Hiding

by Maki Yoshikawa

In our class, we have studied about undocumented immigrants through video, and reading articles on real-life  undocumented immigrants.

I think it is very difficult to make it clear that undocumented immigrants in Japan should be accepted in this society or not. There are a lot of undocumented immigrants who want to stay in Japan. My opinion is that Japan should accept undocumented immigrants. Indeed, it is true that some Japanese people might lose their job because of increasing number of workers. However I suppose that undocumented immigrants are needed in Japan. Japanese society will not be able to survive on its own without help of foreigners. Some Japanese businesses still need workers to work, for example, farming, caring for aged people, fishing, and so on. In these kind of jobs, most Japanese are not willing to take these jobs.

On the other hand, these jobs are socially needed because the aging society is growing year by year, and the workers in the rice fields are also getting older. As everyone knows, rice is necessary in Japanese food. Who knows how to raise rice according to the changing seasons?  Who will take over the technique? After all, there are many kind of jobs which will definitely need people to succeed to. In addition, from my view, foreigners or immigrants can be engaged in these jobs. This will lead the problems which Japanese society having to be known worldwide and recruit people from all over the world. This will be more effective. However, there is a wall of documents and language when recruiting people from around the world.

It is very complex issue when it comes to children like Noriko Calderon. We have laws to follow, and human rights to protect. It is difficult to put weight on both. When we try to follow the laws, human rights tend to be violated as a term of undocumented immigrants. I insist parents are responsible for undocumented children like Noriko even if they had no choice. Children have no reason to be blamed and be restricted their rights. Therefore, as following the law, parents are supposed to leave the country. There is no way to avoid separation between parents and children. On the other hand, this situation must be changed. As a student like Noriko, I would not want more undocumented children in Japan and other countries to feel like her because they are not guilty, they were just born and raised without knowing they are undocumented.

The Japanese government must do something. However, for government, as a policy it is not appropriate to accept all immigrants without limit. For the first step, the Japanese government needs to promote awareness and interest of undocumented immigrants because a friend sitting next to us who looks completely Japanese might be undocumented immigrant who lives hiding his/her problem.

Resolving the Issue of Undocumented Immigrants in Japan

by Tomoya Yamaguchi

As globalization progresses, the number of undocumented immigrants are increasing little by little and there are a lot of problems in the world, too. There are also many problems in Japan and I would like to describe how the Japanese society should do to solve problems, especially about Noriko Calderon.

In Japan, a lot of undocumented immigrants exist and they are often deported by the Japanese government. This is international standard and natural stream. However in Noriko’s case, many factors are connected with the problem of whether the government should deport her parents and her or not. Many people claim their opinions and thoughts. People in liberal side often claim that they have lived in Japan for more 15 years and have the basis of their life is in Japan. About Noriko, her identity is Japanese, and the Philippine is a foreign country to her. As the result of it, Japan is her mother country. Noriko has a lot of friends in Japan. It is said that even if Noriko goes back to the Philippines, she cannot assimilate into the society. As a premise, Japan ratifies “the Convention on the Rights of the Child” and “the International Bill of Human Rights”, so deporting them to the Philippines infringes on these treaties and deporting is incorrect way. In Europe, if undocumented immigrants have children, the governments overlook that the governments force them to leave there. Moreover, people in the liberal side claim that after they come to Japan, they don’t commit any crimes, so Japan should admit them to continuing to stay in Japan.

However people in the right wing also have a lot of opinions against Noriko’s case and undocumented immigrants. First one is that to forgive them results in the disorder that the number of undocumented immigrants increases quickly. To admit them means that once they come to Japan and rearrange the basis of their life, they can continue to stay in Japan forever in their lifetime. This results in the disorder of Japanese jurisdiction and becomes a beginning of proliferation of undocumented immigration. Japan is a constitutional nation and if people commit a crime, people must be banished.  This forms a trend that to make a child and free from their crime is triumph. This is not an argument based on emotion. Second is that the Japanese constitution is the highest one in Japan and treaties is the second highest, so international society should not blame Japan. Furthermore, it is unfair for the foreigner which legally came to Japan to admit them.

In conclusion, I think the undocumented immigrants commit a crime when they enter into Japan, but the Japanese government should also rearrange the laws about immigration because the government should take a responsibility that the officer of the Japanese government would kept not to arrest undocumented immigrants. According to it, the Japanese government needs to enact a new law in order not to increase misery children like Noriko. For example, the government punishes immigrants that spent 15 years after came to Japan for the illegal immigration. However the government doesn’t punish more about post entering Japan because they live in Japan for a long time. However the extent of this law is limited toward only immigrants that have already stayed in Japan for more 15 years. Japan faces the time to change the immigration laws. The Japanese government should respond to those problems flexibly. In my opinion, to admit those undocumented immigrants distorts the Japanese jurisdiction and it is an illegal conduct. However Noriko hasn’t committed a crime and has had no choice. According to it, the Japanese government should conducts flexibly in this case though the government also has to take steps in order not to increase the number of the undocumented immigrants.

Is the DREAM Act Good for American Society?

by Satoshi Tanaka

In the United States, the DREAM Act has not yet been put into law. It is the act that the government gives a green card to the youth who have undocumented parents and who satisfy some conditions. These conditions are that they came to the U.S. before they were sixteen and that they have lived there more than five years. Moreover, to qualify, they must have a higher education or serve in the armed service at least for two years. Usually, these undocumented youth have lived only in the U.S., and they can speak English only. Therefore, if they are forced to go back their own countries, they would have a big difficulty from living. While the conditions to get a green card are not so easy for everyone, they would have a possibility to be accepted to live in the U.S. formally thanks to this act.

However, basically, I disagree with this act. First, this act may cause a problem. For example, it is difficult to deal with their parents, and this has been already discussed. Even if the youth get a green card and are accepted to live in the U.S., they have to be separated from their parents if the parents are forced to leave the U.S. During youth age, to be separated from the parents may have a big influence on their life. In addition to the risk of causing a problem, I disagree with the act because immigrating without permission is prohibited in a law. I know that undocumented immigrants left their home countries and came to the U.S. to survive. Therefore, if they are forced to leave from the U.S., they have to have a harder life in their home countries than life in the U.S. However, I think that it is needed to consider the reason why the government passed the law which prohibits immigration without permission. This is because any countries do not have enough capacity to accept all immigrants who they have a desire to come. To keep the social order, the government has to prohibit illegal immigration, and manage the number of immigrants.

Emotionally, I want the government to support these immigrants and their children and it is the best thing that they avoid having a hard life. However, the government cannot wrestle with the problem because of an emotional reason, and they have a responsibility to keep the social order. Therefore, I think that the government should not allow the special case, and they should deal with all immigrants equally.

Immigration and the U.S.

by Ayaka Kondo

The problem of illegal immigrants has troubled the U.S for a long time, but now the U.S has very strong social and economic ties with them, and it can be asserted the influence of illegal immigrants become so important that it cannot be ignored.  However, the situation over immigration gradually takes different color compared to the past; the number of immigrants from Asia and Mexico continues to go down recently.

It is said that the number of immigrants from China dropped by 87,000 to 70,863 from 2006 to 2010. Moreover, from the data of Pew Hispanic Center, the number of Mexican immigrants used to grow rapidly from the 1970s to 2000s, but since 2007, Mexican immigrants have been decreasing every year. Nevertheless the effect which Hispanic immigrants can give is thought to be still much stronger in the U.S because about 11 million people stay in the U.S illegally and more than 60% of illegal immigrants are Hispanics, mainly Mexicans, and most of them engaged in jobs such as agricultural industry, food service industry and cleaning service industry. In the long run, this tendency will probably give a great impact on American society.

Then, what makes the number of immigrants decrease? The U.S. might become less attractive to immigrants than it used to be in following two points: increasing discontent against immigrants and the depression in the U.S. First, it seems that anti-immigration movement gradually spread out every part of the U.S. For example, in Arizona, near the border between the U.S and Mexico, the state law to crack down on illegal immigrants was enacted in 2010 by conservative people. They have been regarded as those who disturb the peace of the U.S or can be a burden for American citizen, while they contribute to American economy as farmers or low-income workers. Obama announced that it can foster racial discrimination and order an injunction, but Arizona still maintains that stance, and to make matters worse, similar tendency can be seen in the other 23 states.

Now, immigrants are indispensable part of the U.S and they play an important role in American society from perspective of economy and politics, and how make them stay in the U.S might be a significant issue in the near future. Therefore, the government of the U.S has to look for a solution to make its nations and immigrants cooperate although it will be the hardest way.


Huhou Imin ga Gensho Bei Keizai heno Eikyou ha?, [Illegal Immigrants Decrease in the U.S and How Does It Affect American Economy?], retrieved from

NHK Online, 2012, Huhou Imin no Wakamono ni Zairyuu Shikaku, [The Status of Residence for Young Illegal Immigrants], retrieved from

Yasui. A, 2012, Nikkei Business Online, Keikikoutai de Beikoku deha Mekishiko Imin ga Ryuunyuuchou ni, [The Decrease of Mexican Immigrants in the U.S Due to The Depression], retrieved from

The Wall Street News, 2011, Amerikan Dori-mu no Syuuen? Chuugoku Kara no Imin ga Gensho, [The End of American Dream? Immigrants From China Decreased], retrieved fromアメリカン・ドリームの終焉?%E3%80%80中国に引き上げ/