Delivery of suspects, investigations into violations, hearings, filing of objections, rulings, and special permission to stay in Japan

1. Delivery of the suspect (Immigration Control Act, Article 44)

When detaining a suspect in an investigation into immigration law violations, the immigration control officer must hand over the suspect to an immigration officer, along with a record of the investigation and relevant evidence, within 48 hours of detention. This act is referred to as "handing over" the suspect. The immigration officer receiving the suspect will examine whether the investigation into the violation had any errors.

According to Article 63 of the Immigration Control Act, when a suspect is detained for criminal prosecution or the like (pre-sentencing detention, servitude, etc.), deportation procedures can be carried out even if the suspect is not subject to a written detention order. The case and investigation into the violations are taken over by the immigration officer from the immigration control officer without the suspect ever being placed in custody. This act is referred to as "taking over." The immigration officer taking over will examine whether the investigation into the violation had any errors.

2. Investigation into violations (Immigration Control Act, Articles 45-47)

The immigration officer taking over from the immigration control officer must promptly ascertain whether the suspect is subject to deportation (i.e., a foreign national who is subject to any of the grounds for deportation, but is not subject to a departure order).

If the immigration officer finds that the suspect is subject to deportation, and the suspect acknowledges this and wishes to return to their country of origin, a deportation order will be issued by the supervising immigration inspector, and the foreign national will be deported.

On the other hand, if the suspect claims that the findings are incorrect, or if they do not dispute the findings, but want special permission to stay in Japan, they may request a hearing. This hearing would constitute a second stage of the examination.

If the investigation into violations results in the immigration officer determining that the suspect does not fall under any of the grounds for deportation, or if the immigration officer finds that the suspect is subject to a departure order and receives a departure order from the supervising immigration inspector, the immigration officer must immediately discharge the individual.

3. Hearing (Immigration Control Act, Article 48)

If the immigration officer finds that deportation is appropriate, the suspect may claim that the findings are incorrect, or if they do not dispute the findings, but want special permission to stay in Japan, they may request a hearing with a special inquiry officer within three days of receiving the notification of the investigation findings, and a hearing will be held based on this request. This is referred to as "a hearing with a special inquiry officer." The special inquiry officer is a senior immigration officer appointed by the Minister of Justice.

The special inquiry officer will determine if there are any mistakes in the immigration officer’s findings. If the special inquiry officer finds that there are no mistakes with the immigration officer’s findings, and the suspect admits to this and expresses a desire to return to their country of origin, the supervising immigration inspector will issue a deportation order and the suspect will be deported.

On the other hand, if the suspect claims that the findings are incorrect, or if they do not dispute the findings, but want special permission to stay in Japan, they may file an objection with the Minister of Justice. This would constitute a third stage of the examination.

If, after the hearing, it is found that none of the grounds for deportation apply and the special inquiry officer acknowledges this, or if the special inquiry officer finds that the suspect is subject to a departure order and receives a departure order from the supervising immigration inspector, the special inquiry officer must immediately discharge the individual.

At the hearing, the suspect or their representative may submit evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and, with the permission of the special inquiry officer, the suspect may have one relative or acquaintance present. On the other hand, the special inquiry officer can force witnesses to appear, make them take an oath, and demand their testimony.

4. Filing of an objection (Immigration Control Act, Article 49)

If, after acknowledgment by an immigration officer and a determination by a special inquiry officer, the suspect claims that the determination is correct, or if they do not dispute the determination, but want special permission to stay in Japan, they may submit a document within three days of the determination stating why they disagree to the supervising immigration inspector and request that the Minister of Justice make a final determination. This is the act of filing an objection.

The objection will be filed by the supervising immigration officer, who is higher in rank than the special inquiry officer and who will forward the documents to the Minister of Justice. The supervising immigration officer is one of the most senior immigration officers and is appointed by the Minister of Justice.

5. Ruling by the Minister of Justice (Immigration Control Act, Article 49)

The Minister of Justice, who has received the objection, will not directly investigate the suspect. Rather, the evidence (case record) created by a series of procedures—the immigration control officer's investigation into the violation, the immigration officer's examination of the violation, and the hearing conducted by the special inquiry officer—will be examined, with a ruling then handed down.

If the Minister of Justice rules that the objection is unreasonable, the supervising immigration inspector will be notified and a deportation order will be issued.

On the other hand, should the supervising immigration inspector be notified that the Minister of Justice has ruled that there is justification for the suspect's objection because none of the grounds for deportation apply, it is stipulated that the individual is to be immediately discharged.

6. Special permission to stay in Japan (Immigration Control Act, Article 50)

Even if the Minister of Justice finds that the filing of an objection is unreasonable, they may grant special residency permission in the following cases. These special rulings by the Minister of Justice constitute special permission to stay in Japan.

  • They have obtained permission for permanent residence. (Immigration Control Act, Article 50, Paragraph 1, Item 1)
  • They had a registered domicile in Japan as a Japanese national in the past. (Same paragraph, Item 2)
  • They reside in Japan under the control of another due to trafficking in persons. (Same paragraph, Item 3)
  • The Minister of Justice finds grounds to grant special permission to stay, other than the previous items. (Same paragraph, Item 4)

This special permission to stay in Japan allows the Minister of Justice to specially grant residence to foreign nationals who would otherwise face deportation from Japan. Whether or not to grant this permission is at the sole discretion of the Minister of Justice.

* "Examples of the granting/non-granting of special permission to stay in Japan"

7. Issuance of a written deportation order (Immigration Control Act, Article 51)

When the subject receives notification of acknowledgment by the immigration officer that the case has been submitted for judgment by a special inquiry officer, or of a ruling that there is no reason for the objection to be forwarded to the Minister of Justice, the supervising immigration inspector issues a deportation order.

The foreign national referred to as "suspect" during the series of deportation procedures is no longer referred to as "suspect" beginning from the time the deportation order is issued. Instead, as they have been confirmed for deportation, the individual is hereafter referred to as an "individual to be deported."

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