Japan will not seek amendment to immigration law before summer election

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government is unlikely to bring forward a bill amending the rules on how to accommodate non-Japanese under threat of deportation to a session of parliament starting later this month out of fear of a public reaction ahead of the upper house elections this summer, government sources said on Sunday.

The administration of Kishida’s predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, withdrew a bill to revise the immigration law last May after the improper treatment of a detainee at an immigration center in Nagoya led to activists to demand an investigation and opposition parties to call for the bill to be dropped.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition has sought, among other changes, to limit the number of times people can apply for refugee status and have deportation procedures suspended.

The coalition government aimed to change the rule as some detainees have apparently repeatedly sought asylum to avoid deportation, resulting in their prolonged detention.

Opposition parties and activists argued that the proposed revision of the law would violate the principle of non-refoulement – failing to return asylum seekers to a country where they would likely be threatened with persecution – and dash hopes people in desperate need of refugee status.

They stepped up pressure on ruling parties, demanding that the government shed light on a high-profile case involving Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, 33, a Sri Lankan national detained at the Nagoya Regional Bureau of Immigration Services and who has died. in March after complaining of poor health from mid-January.

Under the bill, the government planned to create mechanisms to release foreign nationals threatened with deportation and held in immigration centers.

Japan only accepts about 1% of the refugee applications it receives.

Some members of the LDP’s upper house have expressed concerns about controversial bills being debated in parliament ahead of the chamber elections, a top party lawmaker said.

If the regular session of parliament to be called this month is not extended, the election for the House of Councilors will take place in July.

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