Foreign workers who take gov’t support to head home angered by re-entry restriction

Laid-off foreign workers of Japanese descent who accept financial support from the Japanese government to return to their home countries have been dismayed to learn that they will not be allowed to return to Japan.

“‘Don’t come back.’ Maybe that’s what they’re saying,” says 62-year-old Tess Ohashi sadly. Ohashi is a second generation Brazilian of Japanese descent who lives in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, where 12 percent of the residents are Brazilians, the highest rate in the country.

Not all agree with the re-entry restrictions. “There is a need to think wisely and allow re-entry for those who repay their travel expenses,” remarked Yasutomo Suzuki, mayor of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, at a press conference on April 20. Hamamatsu is home to many Brazilians of Japanese descent.

“It’s possible that the ‘for the time being’ provision may become semi-permanent,” says former Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau chief Hidenori Sakanaka.

“People of Japanese descent are living here under qualifications granted to them under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. For the Ministry of Justice to forbid such people who used a system that has been introduced without deliberation in the Diet from re-entering Japan is beyond the discretion of the minister for justice and is also a violation of the equality guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution,” Sakanaka concluded.