TOKYO (Feb. 18) – Following tight controls on immigration, Japan has ordered Noriko Calderon, a 13-year old Filipina born in Japan, and her parents to leave the country by February 27. They were given the option to leave their daughter behind or face deportation.
The parents have refused to leave without their daughter but ran out of legal options when the Supreme Court in September last year rejected their appeal to stay in Japan.
Her parents entered Japan in the early 1990s with illegal passports and remained in the country undetected. Two years ago, her mother Sarah was apprehended for not having a visa but was later released.
Noriko has grown up speaking only Japanese and attends a junior high school run by the city of Warabi, Saitama Prefecture. Although she has appealed her case with the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to let her family stay together — submitting petitions signed by about 14,500 residents on her behalf — it is likely that only she will be allowed to stay to complete her studies.
But her father, Alan Cruz Calderon, told reporters: “She is 13 years old; she cannot survive or protect herself alone.”
Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, who oversees immigration, told reporters that he has decided “not to grant a special residential permit to the entire family,” after the family’s temporary residential status has expired.
In the meantime, Shogo Watanabe, a leading human rights lawyer handling Calderon’s case, said they “accept neither deportation of the whole family nor sending back only the parents,” warning that the immigration authority could detain Noriko’s 36-year-old father if he refused to leave.
He also said he would continue to negotiate with the immigration authority to let the family stay at least until Noriko graduates from middle or high school.
According to Watanabe, an estimated 500 families are in the same situation as the Calderons. He has accused Japan of not respecting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.