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Man threatened with deportation after 30 years in Japan to sue gov't for residency

Mohammad Sadiq is seen looking after vegetables he grows in his garden at home, which he says helps support his livelihood while he is denied the right to work, in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, on June 18, 2019. (Mainichi/Jun Kaneko)

ATSUGI, Kanagawa -- Mohammad Sadiq, a 55-year-old Pakistani man, is set to fight the Japanese government in court for the right to remain in the country and care for his wife, locked in her own struggle with cancer.

Sadiq has lived in Japan on provisional release from an immigration detention center for more than 10 years, but last month received a notice from the Immigration Services Agency stating he would be deported in the last week of August. Determined to stay by the side of his ailing wife Liu Yun Jie, 59, Sadiq is set to lodge a suit against the state at the Tokyo District Court on Aug. 19 seeking special permission to remain in Japan on humanitarian grounds.

For Sadiq, being deported is unthinkable. "I can't leave my wife behind when she's sick. My family is here in Japan," he said.

According to documents including the legal complaint, Sadiq has lived in Japan since 1988, when he arrived aged 25. He felt that his life was in danger in Pakistan, where he had joined an anti-government protest. Following his arrival in Japan, he worked jobs including at a construction company and a car parts factory, but in July 2007 he was arrested on suspicion of illegal residency and other violations, and put into detention.

He was granted provisional release in January 2009. Under its terms, he was not allowed to work, so his wife Yun Jie worked at a supermarket to support the household. However, five years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although her cancer treatment has been completed, she is dealing with complications including lymphoma. She is also at risk of her cancer returning, and even now she makes regular trips to the hospital and is taking prescription medication.

Special permission to stay in Japan can be granted on humanitarian grounds, in response to family situations and other circumstances, at the discretion of the minister of justice.

In the government's guidelines, it says that active consideration is given to the spouses of Japanese citizens and foreigners who hold permanent residency. Sadiq originally applied for special permission to stay in 2007 after he was apprehended, but was turned down on the basis the request was groundless.

He applied to have his case reevaluated six times but was rebuffed. In the legal complaint, he claims that the government's decision not to grant him special permission to stay deviated from the guidelines. His court filing is expected to delay his deportation, but the possibility he may be detained at an immigration center remains.

"I want to receive a residency status and work to support my wife. I have to fight for my wife's sake," Sadiq said.

In response to inquiries from the Mainichi Shimbun, the immigration agency said, "In the event that the suit is filed, we will examine its contents and respond accordingly."

(Japanese original by Jun Kaneko, City News Department)

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