This mini-episode features a message from Pat (also known as Pato-chan), a trans woman from the Philippines and a former migrant detainee living in Japan, who is raising funds to support herself during her "provisional release" (Karihoumen in Japanese) which prohibits her from working and accessing healthcare. Donate here or here. Sign this petition to defeat the "Immigration Law Revision Bill."
CW: Transphobia, racism, death, suicide
Pat came to Japan in January 2015. Although she became undocumented, Pat continued to live in Japan, working at a bento shop. In July 2019, she was arrested by a police officer who stopped her on the street and detained by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan (also known as the Nyukan) until she was granted provisional release in October 2020. She fears that if she gets deported, she will face more discrimination as a trans person in the Philippines than in Japan. Her fear is well-founded. The Philippine government under Rodrigo Duterte has yet to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill and continues to crack down on LGBTQ+ activists. Last September, Duterte pardoned a US Marine Scott Pemberton who was convicted for murdering Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina in 2014, indicating the Philippine government’s utter disregard for trans rights.
During her incarceration, Pat was treated inhumanely by the Nyukan. They kept her in solitary confinement, and denied her access to healthcare and proper dosage of hormone. They also called her derogatory names for trans and queer people. In response, a group of activists in Japan and abroad came together to organize a campaign to demand her release. However, while this international campaign did prove successful, hundreds of other migrant detainees are still behind bars, deprived of their basic rights and dignity as human beings. At least 16 detainees have been reported to have died since 2007. On March 6, 2021, a 33 year old woman from Sri Lanka died at the hands of the Nyukan.
What Pat is experiencing is shared by many other working class migrants who are victimized by the unjust immigration system. Japan is also responsible for creating the very conditions in which people from poorer nations are forced to migrate in search of work or to escape from war, repression, and discrimination. Japan openly supports repressive regimes like Turkey under Erdogan committing genocide against the Kurds, Israel displacing Palestinians from their homeland, and the Duterte regime of the Philippines criminalizing activists and condoning violence against LGBTQ+ people, through its Military Industrial Complex, and through its close collaboration with US imperialism causing wars and proxy-wars globally, Meanwhile, Japanese corporations continue to profit from cheap raw materials and labour power extracted from the Global South, aiding the systematic underdevelopment of these countries for the benefits of itself and other countries of the Global North.
So while it's crucially important to campaign against the exploitative, exclusionary, and punitive Japanese immigration system, our criticism needs to be filtered through materialist class analysis and an understanding of the international situation, specifically the world system of capitalist imperialism as the root cause of mass migration and displacement.
Special thanks to Pat for sharing her stories!
Outro Music: Solidarity Forever by Erin Saoi