Reconsideration of the Japanese Policy about Refugees

by Ryuhei Sugiyama

Today japan has a very strict rule about accepting refugees. According to the Ministry of Justice, there were only 21 people who were admitted as refugees in 2011, nevertheless 1867 people applied refugees screenings, and most of them who rejected their applications made a protest to the judgments (Ministry of Justice, 2012). In other words, most of the people who cannot be refugees are not guaranteed their safe lives in Japan. Compared with the U.S., about 90-thousand people are admitted as refuges each year (Refugee Assistance Headquarters, 2008). In this way, the number of reception of refugees in Japan is one of the lowest among the developed countries. This is because the strict rule of Japan toward people who pursued aid from Japan.

Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is the standard to judge whether the person is admitted as refugee or not. This act is very severe and it has some problems. Frist, the standard has a lack of balance. Japanese government asks for people to present many documents. However, most of them run away for their lives from their countries, so they cannot have any documents to present their states. In addition, there are lacks of systems of interpreting, thus people who want to do the application for refugee states cannot get enough information. Second, people whose applications are denied are ordered to get away from Japan. They cannot get any protections or legal status if their applications are denied, and are treated as illegal residents. Therefore, the government deports them. If they refuse to leave Japan, they will be imprisoned.

In this way, Japan copes with people who want to be refugees very seriously. However, is this treatment of Japan humanitarian? These people ask Japan for help because there is no place for them to return. If they return to their countries, they will get political, economic, or sometimes physical abuses from their governments. International society has an obligation to protect human rights of all of people around the world. Japan is a member of international society, and has a big influence as one of the developed countries. Therefore, Japan also has an obligation to protect people who ask for help. It is clear that Japan abandons this obligation, and the treatment is inhumane. At this point, Japan should admit more refugees and the act that refuses their helps should be revised.


The number of people who were admitted as refugees in 2011. The Ministry of Justice. Retrieved May 29, 2013 from

The Reception of Refugees in Japan. Refugee Assistance Headquarters. Retrieved May 29, 2013 from

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