Refugees in Japan

by Maika Kubo

Since I learn about refugee in this class, I thought refugee problem is only for African countries which don’t have respectable government. In this class, I learned that there are many people living in western countries (the US, Europe…) as refugees, and even Japan accepts refugees. I was surprised not only the fact that there are refugees in Japan but also the fact that I hadn’t have chance to know about that.

In late 1970s, Japan began to accept Indochina refugees (Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian) because of a pressure of the US. After the Vietnam War, the new governments were started in Indochina countries, and people who can’t accept new governments escaped their countries. Under the system of cold war, the US had to accept a huge number of Indochina refugees. After this reception, Japan joined the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981. According to the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Japan accepted 11,391 Indochina refugees until 2005 (Japan stopped accepting Indochina refugees in 2005), and 508 convention refugees until 2008. In 2010, Japan started to accept Myanmar refugees staying refugee camp in Thailand. 90 refugees will accepted from 2010 to 2013. As the data describes, Japan’s reception of refugees is very small. For example, according to the web site of UNHCR, in 2006, Japan accepted 451 Afghan refugees while the US accepted 800,000.

There are some reasons why Japan accepts few refugees. First, the rate of recognition of refugee is very low. Japan’s rate of recognition of refugee is 0.3 % while the US’s rate is 53% in 2011. In Japan, the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice examines refugees. Refugees who couldn’t be recognized as refugee can make an objection, however, this objection is also examined by the Immigration Bureau. It is said that they should be separated. Because the rate of recognition of refugee is very low, the number of applicant to Japan becomes very few. Also, not only the government, the whole Japanese society treats refugees coolly. From these facts, the number of refugee becomes very few in Japan.

As the globalization towards, the connections between each countries are becoming stronger and stronger. Each counties will be needed to accept refugees more generously, because it is one of the international cooperation. Japan’s negative attitude toward reception of refugee is already criticized in international society.

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