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Seiichi Okutomi

【#1112】Plight of Kawaguchi City Accepting Foreigners Loosely

Seiichi Okutomi / 2024.01.31 (Wed)

January 29, 2024

Kawaguchi City in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo is a core city with a population of 600,000, of which about 40,000 or 6.7% are foreigners. While many of them are familiar with the local community, there are problems caused by some foreigners. The problems are particularly related to those from the Middle East.

Reckless driving and violence

In order to resolve conflicts with foreigners living in the area, I have been working to solve problems through cleanup campaign, patrol activities and symposiums. In the past few years, however, problems such as reckless driving with illegally modified vehicles and overloading of demolition companies’ trucks have increased, causing fatal accidents and violences. In a bid to solve these troubles, I won a seat at the Kawauchi City Assembly with a top priority pledge to tackle the issue of foreigners. On June 29 last year, the assembly adopted a written opinion I submitted to call for enhancing crackdown on crimes committed by some foreigners in order to protect local security and public order.

Some assembly members opposed the opinion as discriminatory, but a few days after the adoption, there was a riot involving about 30 people in a problematic area, followed by a disturbance involving about 100 people at a medical center on July 4. The reality of foreigners behaving selfishly without understanding the significance of the assembly adopting resolutions on local concerns has become widely known through the internet and other media.

However, some media defended foreigners and reported them as discriminated in the local community. A commercial television broadcaster, while having interviewed me, focused its broadcast on foreigners having difficulties and urged Japanese people to live together with foreigners, without reporting my appeal about the plight of the local community at all. I was very frustrated because I know the plight of the local residents who are actually suffering.

Give top priority to local security and order

I believe that the problem of foreigners in Japan is partly attributable to a parole system for refugee applicants. They enter Japan for tourism or business purposes and apply for refugee status when their 90-day visas expire. If such applications are rejected, applicants are detained at immigration control offices. If they have guarantors, however, they will be provisionally released and allowed to live in town. Their state of residence will not be informed to relevant local governments unless the foreigners wish. This is a very strange system. I have requested a review and improvement of the system through local representatives and others to the national government.

My proposals are: (1) foreigners who commit crimes or illegal acts should be deported to their home countries, (2) foreigners should observe local rules and customs, (3) contradictions in immigration control that impose burdens on local governments should be corrected, and (4) the current situation of prosecution in which foreigners who have caused troubles are rarely indicted should be corrected. My proposals do not represent racial or ethnic discrimination but call into question the nation’s modality in which the government accepts foreigners loosely without considering what to do with them after the acceptance and leaves conflicts and troubles to be handled by local governments and communities.

The revised Immigration Control Act coming into effect this year will limit the number of refugee applications by a foreigner to three and require foreign criminals to be deported. I would like the government to strictly enforce the revised act and take measures giving top priority to local security and public order.

Seiichi Okutomi is a Kawaguchi City Assembly member.