Who We Are Fighting For

The mission of KRSY is to offer support to asylum-seekers and irregular migrants in Japan by raising awareness of their situations (through this website), corresponding with people detained in immigration detention centers, and helping children learn the Japanese language (as well as do their schoolwork).

By “irregular migrants” we are referring to foreigners in Japan who do not have legal residential status. They include refugees whose applications for asylum have been denied (Japan has one of the lowest rates of refugee acceptance in the world), as well as people who have overstayed their visas (or have had their visas revoked). While refugees might not be able to return out of a legitimate fear of persecution, there are many other reasons why people might not be able to go back to their countries of origin, including having families in Japan. To paraphrase Max Frisch, Japan might have asked for workers (or students), but they got people instead. Whatever their reasons for not returning to their countries of origin, by virtue of their legal status, irregular migrants live precarious lives. They are not allowed to work, do not have access to national health insurance or other social welfare services, and are always at risk of being detained and/or deported.

Although irregular migrants technically do not have the right to be in Japan, their children do have the right to receive an education in Japan. However, as the parents usually do not speak, read, or write Japanese, the children often struggle with their homework as they cannot receive any help at home. Furthermore, Japanese schools often send home notifications about upcoming school events and activities that require parents’ signatures or involve fees, but if the parents cannot read the notifications and respond appropriately, the children cannot participate.  For these reasons we are working with a volunteer group that is helping children with their schoolwork and parents with such notifications.

While forced deportation is the least desirable outcome for irregular migrants, detention is a close second. The conditions at immigrant detention centers are horrible. Detainees complain that medical needs are often untreated—staff give painkillers no matter what the symptoms. No matter how cold, the heat is not turned on until December 1. Detainees are locked in rooms (cells) with other detainees who may or may not speak the same language 18.5 hours a day. The rooms have windows, but they are made of frosted glass, so while sunlight can get in, the detainees cannot see outside.​ ​Detainees who have also experienced time in prison say that ​immigrant ​detention is worse than prison. In prison, at least, they know when they will be released. In detention, nobody knows when (or if) they will be released. Moreover, while detainees can apply for provisional release, it often takes 2 to 3 months for a decision, and whether the application is denied or approved, reasons are never given. These conditions, and a complete lack of transparency, are extremely stressful for the detainees, and have led to a number of suicides and suicide attempts, as well as hunger strikes by detainees.

Therefore, through this website we hope to increase awareness of these issues both inside and outside of Japan, and through our volunteer activities, we hope to bring some hope to detainees, and ease the process of assimilation for irregular migrant children and their parents.

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