Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Immigration case pits sympathy vs letter of law

For some critics of Japan, it is a case of xenophobia in action. For others, a matter of applying the law.

But many were doubtless moved watching 13-year-old Noriko Calderon bid farewell to her parents this week before the Filipino couple, who entered Japan on false passports before she was born, flew back to their homeland, leaving their daughter behind.

“My mother and father, who always said ‘Welcome home’ when I returned from school, will be gone. I won’t be able to eat my mum’s yummy cooking,” said Noriko, who wiped away tears with the sleeve of her typical Japanese school uniform as she said goodbye at Narita airport. “It’s lonely.”

Japanese media have been full of the tale of the Calderon family for months. Noriko’s parents, Sarah and Arlan, had repeatedly sought special permission to stay in Japan with their daughter, who speaks only Japanese and attends a Japanese school.