Unfortunately, his case is not unique either.
Gursewak Singh is a 17-year-old teen living in a suburban town in Chiba Prefecture, where he was born and has lived his entire life. He speaks the Japanese language with native proficiency, attends a public high school, and hopes to study web design at university after he graduates. His technical prowess can be observed in the computer he shares with his younger siblings, which he and his friends built together from scratch.
However, Singh’s fate hangs in limbo and he, along with the rest of his family, faces deportation to a country he doesn’t know. This is due to the fact that his parents, who are Sikhs originally from India, fled to Japan in the 1990s to escape religious oppression.
They continued to live under the radar until they were put on “provisional release” in 2001 while they applied for asylum, which allows them to stay in Japan while their case is under review. However, they are not allowed to work, do not receive health insurance, and must even receive special permission to travel outside of their prefecture of residence. Singh and his siblings have inherited their parents’ asylum-seeking status, so despite being born and raised in the country, becoming a naturalized citizen is likely not an option for them.
Singh’s parents said that they had at one point been given an ultimatum that would give their children the proper visa status they were after, but it required both parents to return to India, separating the family.
Japan has a notoriously low rate of accepting refugees, with those opposed to an increased intake of asylum-seekers questioning the economic strain it would put on the host country, as well as the safety of doing so.
While the refugee crisis is complicated and there is likely no easy, one-size-fits-all solution, it is difficult to justify deporting Singh and other kids in similar situations to a foreign country when Japan is the only home they’ve ever known.