by Akifumi Kamamoto
From my research and our classes, I found that Japan has a strict policy toward refugees although the number of refugees is increasing. You can see the clear statistics that Japan is not tolerant toward refugees, on the other side many countries receive much more refugees. Of course Japan has policy of refugee protection, too. However there are some problems in the policy and they make the difficult situation for refugees.
It is said that there are four contents which make refugee application difficult in refugee application procedures. First, they have to make application within 60 days when they come to Japan or they are regarded as refugee. If they missed the deadline, they could not be regarded as legal refugee and could not get any protection. Second, there are some lacks in the policy about their capacity to live in Japan and protection of refugees. In fact these policies exist, but these standards don’t come up to that of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Third, those who apply to be refugee in Japan cannot get legal standing during application. So they are treated as the same as foreigner who don’t have right to live in Japan then. Finally, Japanese government thinks that it is more important to recognize to be refugee under the judge by political and diplomatic reasons than under the judge by rule of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. These problems make receiving refugees much more difficult.
Although these problems are pointed out seriously, these days refugee application procedures in Japan is improved gradually through comprehensive action by the government or residential society. As a result, there is the statistics that the number of receiving refugees is increasing. Also, the third country residents (第三国定住) program, which is adopted the first in Asia, is paid attention.
In conclusion, I think Japan is improving its thought about refugees. Although Japan has some risks when it accepts them, Japan should be more tolerant toward them. Some refugees cannot stay and live in their own countries, and have to leave in order to continue to live. At the same time, Japan has problems, such as a declining birthrate or a labor shortage in the country or so. Then, we need the power and cooperation of refugees. So, I think Japan should receive much more refugees in order to help them and to improve our society.
UNHCR JAPAN (2012/11/13) http://www.unhcr.or.jp/html/protect.html