Ghanaian man with kidney failure sues Japan’s city government for blocking aid because of his nationality

The Chiba Municipal Government Office can be seen in Chuo Ward, Chiba, in this file photo taken on March 1, 2019 (Mainichi / Buntaro Saito)

CHIBA – A Ghanaian living in Japan filed a complaint with the Chiba District Court on December 14 calling on the municipal government of this eastern Japanese city to withdraw its rejection of his request for public aid on the grounds that he is of foreign nationality, which, according to him, violates the law on public assistance.

According to the complaint and other sources, the 31-year-old came to Japan to study Japanese and other subjects in 2015, and graduated from a Japanese language school. He got a work visa and a job in a bakery, but because he suffers from ailments such as chronic kidney disease, he had to undergo dialysis treatment three times a week.

In 2020, he was granted resident status to seek treatment, but because he could not work and had no family to rely on, he applied for public aid from the Chiba municipal government in November 2021. In December, the city rejected his request, stating that he did not have a resident status corresponding to a citizen as provided for in Article 1 of the Law on Public Assistance, among other reasons.

Regarding those included in the scope of citizens as described by Article 1 of the law, the Supreme Court of Japan indicated in a 2014 ruling that foreign nationals are not included. But the complaining party argues that it “should be understood to broadly include foreign nationals living in Japan”. During a press conference, the complainant expressed concern that he cannot live without dialysis, and that he needs public assistance.

The Chiba City Municipal Government said, “We will refrain from commenting as we have not yet confirmed the legal complaint.”

(Japanese original by Tatsuya Naganuma, Chiba Office)


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