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Young Columbus residents to return to Japan

Young Columbus residents to return to Japan

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today that agreement has been reached with the Auckland-based Columbus Academy to return the young residents of the academy back to Japan.

“I welcome the undertaking of the Columbus Academy to return the under-17 year olds who live at the academy back to their homeland as soon as arrangements can be made,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The Government launched a multi-agency investigation into the Columbus Academy in late February following the alleged murder of a young Japanese man who lived at the academy.

“The top priority of the investigation has been the safety and welfare of the Japanese nationals who live at the academy, and that is still our focus. The Government believes it is in the best interests of the young people that they return to their parents in Japan. We are not confident that the academy can provide adequate care for these young people.

“The multi-agency team, including health, education and immigration officials, has been working closely with the Columbus Academy in the past week to address our concerns. Earlier barriers to the investigation have now been overcome. “Information gleaned from the multi-agency investigation so far has been passed to the Government in Japan and we acknowledge their support and assistance in contacting the parents of the young people,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The Government believes that all the other students resident at the academy should also return home to Japan, and Columbus is assisting in this process.

“I have asked the multi-agency team to continue its work until such time as all our concerns are resolved.

“Because I do not want to jeopardise this process in any way, I will not be commenting further at this stage,” Trevor Mallard said.

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