What Japan Can Do for Refugees

by Satomi Toba

In this short report, I’ll look over the present refugee situation in the world and then, refer to what can we, Japanese people do for this issue. It is said that in the world, in 2010, there are about 15 million people who have been exiled from their native countries because of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion (the 1951 Convention). What is worse, it is estimated that the number of refugee records the highest number after 2000. What they have faced under the daily life is usually stricter than people think of: most of the refugees are women and young children whose husband/father was usually passed away because of conflicts. Those refugees have to live under harsh condition, including violence and social discrimination.

‘Arab Spring’ is regarded as an epoch-making incident for citizens and countries where dictatorship has lasted for a long time. It gathers the world’s attention and the big aftereffects are still on. At the same time, we must focus on some people who have become new refugees. The exact number isn’t available, however, Reuter reported that in 2011 the number of people who applied for refugee status increased by 20 %, compared to the last year’s one, due to that democratic movement. It reaches to 441 thousand in 44 developed countries.

Through the last 2 or 3 classes, I’ve learned that the Japanese system or foundation for refugees is smaller-scale, compared to that of other developed countries. Especially, I doubt of an odd system, which after they apply for refugee status, they are not allowed to work and earn money until the judge will be cleared. Usually, it takes about from 6 months to 1 year. As it is known widely, Japanese government doesn’t receive so many refugees like other countries. Thus, it can be said that the refugees inevitably face the economic problem while the application term, nevertheless the possibility to be recognized as formal refugee is too low. I strongly think that it is time for Japan to rethink about them, and not only do that but also take actions. For the first step, I suggest that Japanese government should do away with the strict rule on work activity while the application term. Instead of prohibiting working, it’s better to let them work as they want to. I think it will create new human relationship and social relationship between the refugees and our society. Then, more Japanese people will come to notice this severe problem and speak it out together. I think it is the start point.

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