Sunday, March 15, 2009

The saga of Noriko-chan

Noriko Calderon (right) with her parents at a press conference in Tokyo

I first heard about the ordeal of Noriko Calderon through Jasper's blog. Noriko is a 13-year old girl who was born and raised in Japan with Filipino parents. Sarah, 38, came to Japan in 1992 and Arlan, 36, followed in 1993. BOTH USED FAKE PASSPORTS. The two managed to bear a child, send her to school, and work while staying under the radar for 13 years. In July 2006, Sarah Calderon was arrested for illegal residency. The family pleaded for special residency and battled it out in the courts for two years. In September 2008, the Japanese Supreme Court ruled that the Calderons must voluntarily return to the Philippines by January 14, 2009 or risk being deported with Noriko. The deadline has been reset three times until the final deadline last February 27. After the ultimatum lapsed, Arlan Calderon was detained by the Japanese Immigration Bureau while Sarah was given an extension permit to stay with her daughter. Last Friday, March 13, Arlan and Sarah Calderon finally decided to leave without their daughter lest they risk Noriko's special residency permit. They are scheduled to return to the Philippines on April 13. Noriko will be left to the care of her mother's sister who is married to a Japanese national. Her parents will be granted special short-term visas to visit her regularly.

It should be understood that Japanese immigration laws are different from the US or Philippines. A child born in Japan to immigrant parents DOES NOT automatically become a Japanese citizen. One can only become a Japanese citizen by blood or naturalization. Even foreigners married to Japanese citizens do not automatically acquire their spouse's citizenship. The process of naturalization is looong and difficult and Japan does not allow dual citizenship. A foreigner applying for naturalization should be ready to renounce his/her original citizenship. That is why most foreigners settle for permanent residency or the equivalent of the immigrant status in the US. In the Calderons' case, it is not clear if either parent is a Japanese descendant. Arlan Calderon sure does look very Oriental but I assume that he has no Japanese blood because, if he does, their case would have been much less complicated. Perhaps he is part Chinese or Korean?

In my opinion, nobody else can be blamed for this mess but the parents.

1. They used fake passports. It is one thing to have no proper visa but fake passports? It is exactly the falsifying of documents which aggravated their case. They committed a double whammy. Some people argue that they might have done it because they were poor back in the Philippines. Poverty is never an excuse to commit a crime.

2. They did not make Noriko understand that she is not Japanese. The poor girl claims she did not know that she is Filipino until her mother was arrested. This is quite unbelievable given her Spanish surname and very un-Japanese looking mother.

3. They did not teach Noriko Filipino or English. They claim that Noriko only speaks Japanese so it would be difficult for her to continue her studies in the Philippines. Noriko had all the time to learn Japanese at school. She should have been taught Filipino or English at home. Still, there are Japanese schools in the Philippines where Noriko can study if she chooses to join her parents in the Philippines. She only needs to start Filipino lessons from Grade One, not the entire curriculum as what their lawyer argues.

4. They claim to not have enough money to start anew in the Philippines. Did they not save for their reintegration? Did they have plans of going home at all? Or did they plan to stay illegally in Japan until death?

I think the Calderons were bound to lose their case considering how merciless Japan is when it comes to immigration issues. I remember a Japanese-Filipino lady in her mid-50's who has been living in Japan fore more than 10 years with a long-term resident visa. After her regular visa renewal application, she was suddenly granted a 3-month tourist visa. She had to go back to the Philippines and repeat the whole process of applying for eligibility. Upon her return to Japan, she was barred at the airport and was sent back to the Philippines. If something like this could happen to a half-Japanese with legal documents, what more to illegal aliens with fake passports?

It is understandable why the government refused to grant the request of the Calderons. Doing so would set a very bad precedent for the numerous illegal residents with children in Japan. I am not talking only about Filipinos. There are Chinese, Brazilians and Koreans. Imagine if they will all come out and apply for special residency!

It is just so sad that poor Noriko-chan should suffer for her own parents' irresponsibility. They are lucky enough to be granted regular visits by the Japanese government.

One thing that amazes me is how the parents were able to enroll Noriko year after year without being detected. Maybe Japanese schools should review their enrollment system.


jaspercaesar said...

You're right o the money, honey!

Poor Noriko-chan.

mikay said...

I almost wrote nga "lami dapay dapayon" ang parents ni Noriko! Makaulit ang mga tao nga ingon ani. Gesh! Kalooy sa bata.

NoriKongCalderon said...

masama kse mga ugali nyo, karma yan na nagdamay sa mahal nyo sa buhay. Nakakahiya kayo bilang Pilipino na itakwil ang sariling Bansa. Akala ng mga tao napakababait ninyo, pero di nila alam na may mga tao kayong inapi at sinaktan! Remember?.. "Ang di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay HIGIT pa ang amoy sa Mabahong HININGA!!! Ang BAHO nyo CALDERON!! nakakasuka!

mikay said...

Update: Arlan and Sarah Calderon have been deported from Japan last April 13. I am appalled to learn that they only speak to Japanese media even in Manila and speak only Nihonggo. Japanese wannabes much???