Diet OKs bills to up foreigner controls

The Diet passed bills Wednesday that tighten controls on foreign residents, paving the way for them to take effect within three years, despite opposition from foreigners and human rights activists.

The planned enforcement follows an agreement on the bills reached last month between the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition and the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party.

The bills, which cleared an Upper House plenary session, will abolish the Alien Registration Act and revise immigration control and resident registration laws.

Rights activists condemned the bills for excessively tightening controls on foreigners.

“We will keep fighting against the enforcement of the bills in municipalities, the Diet and the United Nations, seeking cooperation from nongovernmental organizations in Japan and the world,” said Nobuyuki Sato, representative of Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan, which wants the bills abolished.

The Immigration Bureau and lawmakers worked out the bills to reduce the number of undocumented foreign residents, which the bureau estimates total about 110,000.

Human rights activists, including Akira Hatate, director of the nongovernmental organization Japan Civil Liberties Union, said that instead of focusing on reducing the number of illegal residents, the government should treat overstayers as members of society that can help the country prosper.