Chinese Falun Gong Practitioners Detained in Japan

Chinese Falun Gong practitioners living in Japan are considering leaving the country after two sect members were taken into custody and face deportation to the mainland. “If the Japanese government won’t protect us, then we have to think about going to a third country,” said Shao Xinli, a Falun Gong practitioner who has lived in Japan since the mid-1990s. Ms Shao said she was twice jailed on the mainland for being a member of the sect.

The last time that Ms Shao returned to the mainland was in late 1999. She said she was detained for a month. She was able to return to Japan but has three times been refused entry to Hong Kong after arriving on flights from Japan.

Earlier this week, Zhou Jinghua and Wang Benjie, both from Dalian in Liaoning Province, were summoned to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau. Wang, 40, and Zhou, 31, were taken into custody on Wednesday, joining seven other Falun Gong members awaiting deportation. “We’re not sure what is going to happen to them or how long the procedures will take, but there are 30 Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong who have applied for asylum in Japan,” said Ms Shao, who arrived in Japan from Jiangsu Province. “We are worried that they will all suffer the same fate, being detained one by one.”

None of those who have applied for asylum have been granted the right to stay by the Justice Ministry. Most are allowed to live in Japan for between one and three years. The ministry’s Immigration Bureau refused to comment on individual cases. “They face persecution if they are sent back to China and they don’t want to go. If the Japanese government could understand the situation in China, then we believe it would allow them to stay here on humanitarian grounds,” said Ms Shao.

About 300 Chinese followers of Falun Gong living in Japan plan to lodge official appeals with the Japanese government against forcible repatriation to China. “I do not believe that the Japanese authorities are targeting Falun Gong practitioners, but recently Japan’s attitude has become more harsh towards immigrants,” she said. “They are monitoring illegal residents more strictly, but they do not know enough about what happens to Falun Gong followers if they are returned to China.”

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