Refugees in Japan

by Kie Maruoka

The Japanese government affirms that “refugee assistance is a bounden duty of a member of the international community,” and “one of the important pillars of Japan’s contribution to world peace and prosperity.” The Japanese Government also gives money to foreign countries for refugees. Japan is the third-largest donor after the U.S. and EU. However, money is not everything, and the reality in Japan is serious. Many refugees escape from their home country to Japan. And the number of refugees that the Japanese government admitted is very small. In 2001, Japan admitted 26 refugees even though more than million people in the world are hoping to be accepted as refugee. Moreover in the same year, the US accepted more than 20,000 people as refugees. Takizawa Saburo, who is the UNHCR Representative in Japan, says that “The ratio of asylum seekers coming to japan is only 0.0013%.”

Also even if people are admitted as refugees in Japan, their life is not comfortable. Those people can’t get a job easily because of the lack of the Japanese skills and the restriction of the refugees’ access to information. They don’t have many friends who they can rely on. So they can’t gain information enough. Also if they can get a job, their job is very hard. From the research, at the refugee camps in Thailand, Japanese government is showing ‘promotion video’ which says that Japan is a safe country where people can easily live with few problems. So if Japanese government wants to appeal that we welcome refugees to the world, they should adopt more refugees and establish more supporting program for refugees.

In the debate last week, I heard some demerits of accepting refugees in Japan. It is true that now the unemployment problem is serious in Japan. So if more refugees come into Japan, this problem may become more serious. However, in my opinion, this problem is different. Those people who want to be accepted as refugees experienced very serious situation in their home country. Their daily life is not guaranteed and they are always facing dangerous happenings in their home country. Therefore in Japan, as a one of the international society, we should consider what we can do for those people. And the governments need to try to help and to establish better programs for them.

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