Against the Japanese policy on refugees

by Ryota Takatsuka

We learned about the situation of Japanese acceptance of refugees. According to the readings and materials which the professor gave to us, Japan accepts less than 1% of applicants. Although Japan has the third biggest economy in the world, Japan accepts by far fewer refugees than other developed countries. We have debate about question “Whether Japan should accept more refugees or not”. My answer is “Yes”. There are two reasons why I answered at the debate.

The first reason is that refugee can cover the shortage of labor especially in field that seek labor. Now, Japan is about to face aging society and decline of birth rate, so in some field, lack of young labor will cause vanish of job. Agriculture is famous example of this. Although Japanese self-sufficiency rate is lower than any other developed country, the number of young people who choose agriculture to work is decreasing year and year. This is why the age average of farmer is getting higher and agriculture is in danger to be disappeared in the near future. However, refugees can solve this kind of problem, because they come to Japan seeking job to live. I mean increasing number of worker promote people including Japanese young people to work in various kind of work such as agriculture. The more people come in Japan, the competition of job hunting will more hard and tough. Due to this people will be supposed to expand their eye to the industries which have not been gotten attention. This situation can help various kind of industry develop and solve Japanese current problem that lack of labor because of aging society and declining of young people.

The second reason is fundamentally, Japan is responsible for guaranteeing human rights of people all over the world by the Japanese constitution. Accepting refugee and supporting them in language and job hunting are duty of Japanese government. If Japanese government keep rejecting accept much more refugees like other country do, Japanese constitution has no power to guarantee the human rights against even Japanese people.

I feel strange that fact that Japan accepts fewer refugees than other countries. The trend of the world is globalization. Japan has to catch up with this trend by accepting refugee and admit the multiculturalism in society. The tie between other nations will be more tight and Japan start being flexible against diversity. Following this, Japan can find benefit in accepting foreign community such as immigrants and refugee in terms.

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

Refugees are people too

by Mei Satoi

According to UNCHR (United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee), a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution. The present acceptable situation of refugee in Japan is very less. On the other hand, other developed countries accept a lot of refugees. 2,545 people applied for refugee recognition in Japan in 2012. It is the best number for the past fifteen years. However, in fact, Japan recognized only 18 refugees. It is very few. When people cannot be recognized as refugee in Japan, they do not have the right to reside in Japan and cannot receive public service like medical care.

I think that Japan should accept more refugees. In addition, the support for refugees would be more settled. I agree with that refugee is also human like Japanese. Human needs help each other. If one human needs support, other should give a hand. Refugees have different background. However, do not judge them by their nationality, race, and culture, Japanese have to protect their human rights. Some Japanese worry about worsen relationship with foreign countries, became less working places, and lose Japanese culture by accepting refugees. However, I believe that Japan can approach to other states as state which can protect human security. In addition, Japanese would be able to understand refugee’s situation by having communication with refugee. Japanese often think that refugee is not our problem. It is only other countries’ problem. So, I think that Japanese can get chance to understand and feel foreign problem and crisis by communication with people have real experience. It would promote Japan’s degree of international contribution.

In conclusion, Japan should accept refugees to protect their humanity. Of course, Japan has to prepare to accept refugees. In fact, it is very important for refugees and Japanese society. As, refugees face to behavior suitable for the occasion, they need understanding of Japanese language and culture. So, to set education places for refugees is needed. In addition, it is important for refugee to avoid isolation. So, giving communication place is also needed. Maybe, Japanese citizen also participate in that places. Following that Japanese get understandings how and why refugees had to come Japan. In fact, Japan has support system for refugees. However, Japan accepts so little refugees. As, a lot Japanese citizen do not accept refugees. They have tried to make country without people who have different race, language, and culture. To realize nation which citizen can recognize differences each other, Japanese citizen try to have generous viewpoint to refugee.

Japan’s Refugee Policy: Its Problems and Solutions

by Kentaro Sakamoto

Japan has been known for accepting few refugees. In 2012, 18 people, only 0.56 % of the asylum seekers who applied for refugee status in Japan, were officially accepted as refugees (Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan, 2013). There were also 112 people who were not able to get refugee status but permitted to stay in Japan on humanitarian grounds. However, even if you combine these two groups of people, it is only 4.07 % of the asylum seekers who demanded refugee status in 2012 (Ibid). The average number of refugees accepted per year in Japan from 2000 to 2012 is only 28 (Amnesty International, 2013). In contrast, other developed countries accept a lot more refugees than Japan does. For example, the U.S. accepted 16,742 refugees in 2008, Canada accepted 9,648, Germany had 7, 291, Britain had 4,752, Italy had 1,785 and the Netherlands had 515, while Japan only accepted 57 in the same year (Sekai to Nihon no nanmin nintei su, n.d.). Yet 2008 is the year that Japan had accepted more refugees than any other year between 2000 and 2012.

There are mainly four reasons why Japan does not accept many refugees. First, the Japanese government wants to have a strict screening process on deciding who can become a refugee and who cannot. The government is afraid of the possibility of people abusing the system as a method to stay in Japan or get financial aid from the government (Amnesty International, 2012). Second, the government is afraid of accepting refugees from certain countries such as China and Turkey for fear of relationships between Japan and those countries being deteriorated. This is the reason why Kurds from Turkey have never been admitted as refugee yet, despite the fact that many Kurds are demanding refugee status in Japan. For example, in 2011, 234 people from Turkey applied for refugee status and all of them were Kurds, but not even a single person was able to become an official refugee (Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan, 2012). Thirdly, the number of people who demand refugee status in Japan is not big due to the first and second reasons written above. In 2012, the number of applicants seeking for refugee status was 2545 (Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan, 2013), which is not even bigger than the number of refugees accepted in the U.S, Germany and Britain in 2008, according to the data shown in the first paragraph. The system that requires people to actually be in Japan to apply for the status also reduces the number of applicants. Moreover, since applicants are not allowed to work during the screening process which can take up to several years, people hesitate to come to Japan as asylum seekers. Fourth, the cultural and language barriers of Japan are quit big, since many people still believe that Japan is an ethnically homogenous nation. Also, the fact that many people cannot speak English makes it harder for some asylum seekers to adapt themselves to Japan.

Despite all these reasons that are limiting Japan from accepting more refugees, I believe that Japan should accept more of them. Refugees are human, and all humans certainly have human rights. An international trend to protect human rights is being more and more promoted, and responsible states in the international society are expected to protect not only the human rights of their own people but the rights of people from other states/regions too. If Japan wants to become the leader of Asia, it must start from protecting human rights more and appeal to the world that Japan is a nation that can contribute to create a better world. Accepting refugees is the first step for this. Currently in Japan, because of the system forbidding asylum seekers to work during the screening process, many of them are working illegally with low wages, and some of them are even treated inhumanely in their jobs. Accepting more official refugees and modifying the screening system will protect them from falling into this situation which can violate their rights. Moreover, accepting refugees can be a solution to the declining working population in primary industries, since many of the native Japanese do not want to work in these fields. It can also be a solution to the national pension system that is facing problems because of the increase of old people and the decrease of young people, as most of the asylum seekers are from the younger working generation. Accepting refugees is not merely a way to improve the lives of people who were persecuted in their original countries, but also a way to solve the difficult problems that Japan is facing now.


Amnesty International. (2012). Nihon no nanmin: Nanmin nintei seido ranyousha o ippanka suruna [Refugees in Japan: Do not generalize the misusers of the refugee admitting system]. Amnesty International. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Amnesty International. (2013). Nihon no nanmin: Nihon ni kurasu nanmin no kiso A to Z [Refugees of Japan: The basic knowledge of refugees living in Japan from A to Z]. Amnesty International. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Sekai to Nihon no nanmin nintei su [Numbers of refugees accepted in Japan and the world]. (n.d.). Rafiq Website. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan. (2012). Nanmin nintei shinsei su [Number of applicants for refugee status]. Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan [Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees]. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan. (2013). 2012 nen no Nihon ni okeru nanmin ninteisha su tou ni kansuru seimei [A statement about the number of refugees accepted in Japan in 2012]. Zenkoku Nanmin Bengodan [Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees] . Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

The situation of refugees in Japan

by Kim Jina

In the rush of globalization, Japan consists of less than 2 percent of foreigners (they are mostly Korean and Chinese). By contrast Japan consists of more than 98 percent of Japanese. Like a reflection of this, the average annual number of recognized refugees in Japan is very small. It is less than 1 percent. According to a report researched by the Immigration Bureau of Japan, about 2,500 asylum seekers came to Japan in 2012 and only 18 of them were accepted as refugees with legal status. It is lower than 1 percent. On the other hand, the United States, Canada and even South Korea have higher acceptance rate than Japan, 53 %, 44.6% and 11.7% respectively. The irony is that even though Japan has a major economic power, Japan has the lowest refugee acceptance rate. Japan is supposed to make more contributions to international society than other countries which have less economic power. Japan should admit more refugees so that Japan could serve as an example of how to cope with the progress of accepting refugees to other Asian countries and even international society.

Refugees including asylum seekers desperately need help from international society. Most of them are forced to leave their home countries or they have no choice but to flee their home countries. They lose their home, job, family and even some documents or something as an evidence of that they are in serious trouble. They are inevitably coming to other countries with almost nothing. At first, helping them to find a job and house as well as providing financial aids might be the best way to support refugees when they come to new countries. However, before supporting them, the legal resident status should be given to them, so that they are able to receive health insurance service, find a job and go to school.

Of course, it would be difficult to give every asylum seekers came to Japan the legal refugee status, but it is possible to provide them more opportunities to have legal status. Even if they are granted legal refugee status, most of them are struggling to find a job. There are only few people who have legal refugee status in Japan. Nevertheless, most of them are in unfair conditions. However, Japan has good example of how to support refugees. Uniqlo, one of the major apparel companies in Japan, provides refugee Khadiza Begum an opportunity to work at Uniqlo through a Uniqlo program. To admit more refugees in Japan, the Japanese government should encourage major companies to provide refugees more chance to work like Uniqlo. In addition, Japanese people should try to change the way they think about refugees. However, the most important thing to accept more refugees in Japan is that the Japanese government should make the immigration policy easier to get legal status. With the efforts mentioned above, it is expected that the number of refugees in Japan could be increased.

Japan and Refugees

by Ryoma Kagawa

Today, there are a great number of refugees in the world because of some factors such as conflicts, religion, and their political thoughts. While developing countries receive many of them, developed countries arrange for them to evacuate from their home countries as well. Among the developed countries, the U.S., France, and Germany accept more refugees than Japan does. In fact, the number of refugees which Japan has received is very tiny; according to the Ministry of Justice (2012), 1,867 people sought asylum, and 21 were accepted in 2011, which is the source of the criticism of Japan. It has been argued for a long time whether Japan should accept more refugees or not. In my opinion, Japan should do it, and there is a reason for it.

The biggest reason is that the acceptance of refugees is a matter of human rights. All people have the rights to live human lives, and so do refugees. I think that not accepting refugees means the denial of their human rights. Practically, however, it may be difficult for a country to receive refugees who are forced to escape from their homelands by the government for political reasons when their homelands are its friendly countries. The acceptance of refugees has the possibility to deteriorate the relationships between both of the countries. Actually, a Kurdish man living in Japan seeks asylum many times, yet it may be difficult because Japan has a good relationship with Turkey (Ito, 2012). To receive refugees allows a country to gain the prestige from the international society, but might lead it to the loss of trust from its friendly countries.

Still, it does not mean that Japan should be strict about the acceptance of refugees. If it is the concern for Japan that the relationships will go sour, I believe that Japan does not need to officially recognize refugees and grant them asylum. Actually, the Ministry of Justice (2012) also reports that it accepted 248 people of all the asylum seekers in 2011 to keep staying in Japan from the humanitarian point of view, although they had no certifications to prove them refugees. In such a way, Japan can accept refugees without officially recognizing them so that the relationships with other countries do not deteriorate; I believe that Japan should establish laws to increase the number of such people and to grant them more rights.

Refugees have human rights as well as non-refugees, so it is nonsense that, in spite of hard experiences in the homelands and refuge in Japan, they gain no asylum like insurances. Thus, in order to secure their human rights, Japan should be more open to refugees.


Ito, M. (2012, May 26). Desperate Kurd plays final asylum card. The Japan Times News. Retrieved May 30, 2013, from

Ministry of Justice. (2012). Heisei 23nen ni okeru nanminninteishasuto ni tsuite [On the number of refugees recognized by Japan in 2011]. Ministry of Justice. Retrieved May 30, 2013, from

Receiving of Refugees and Refugee Resettlement in Japan

by Kanami Hirokawa

It is said that the number of refugees is 43.3 million in the world now and many refugees are driven away from their living places. Although many of them are staying at their home country or the neighboring country, there are also refugees who come to the developed countries such as the US and Canada in order to look for their safe and stable life. This is refugee resettlement. Since 2010, Japan also began to the program of refugee resettlement as the first country of the Asian country. In 2010, 27 refugees of Myanmar who live in refugee camp of Thailand came to Japan. This is a new approach for Japan.

At first, why does not Japan receive many refugees? About 1.6 thousand refugees came to Japan in order to be recognized as refugees in 2008. However, the refugees who were recognized as refugees by the Minister of Justice are only 56 refugees. This number shows that many refugees can not be recognized as refugees and be allowed to come to Japan. Compared with other developed countries such as the US and France, the number of refugees being received is very few. The cause that the refugees in Japan are a small number is the system on the refugees and entry into a country. In Japan receiving entry permit to Japan is difficult in the eyes of the system of Japan. In the present day, refugees who came to Japan in order to be recognized as refugees are accommodated in an accommodation temporarily and they are treated like illegal immigrants. The food they receive is a poor Japanese food and they can not eat well because they do not adapt to Japanese food. They suffer in the accommodation until the result of the procedure comes out.

Next, Myanmarese refugees who came to Japan in 2010 learned a lot about the way in Japan in order to know about Japanese life and culture and to live comfortably. They learned Japanese language, culture and custom. Moreover, they were taught the necessary things to live without being in trouble such as the way of shopping and ATM because they lived in refugee camp and do not know these ways. They learned about many things for six months and they began to live and work by themselves.

However, refugees face many problems and difficulties in their lives in Japan. They face the wall of culture, language, discrimination and so on. In particular, in Japan foreigners tend to be recognized as strangers. Many Japanese still think that people living in Japan can speak Japanese and have black hair and eyes. Therefore, refugees who can not speak Japanese well are seen as the objects of the discrimination. Even if they can get the entry permit, their lives is not easy.

At last, Although Japan began to the approach of the refugee resettlement since 2010, Japan also contributes much money to United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR). The contribution of Japan is the second to the US. In Japan many Japanese do not know the existence of refugees in the world, but Japanese government has an effort to decreasing number of refugees. Therefore, Japan will receive more refugees in the future. Japan is not friendly country for refugees in the present state of affairs of Japan. In order to achieve receiving more number of refugees to Japan, changing the mind of Japanese people and being improved the system of the entry permit are also needed. Japan has many points to be improved about refugees.


Daisanngokuteizyu [Refugee Resettlement]. (2012). Seihu Kouhou Onrainn. Retrieved May 28, 2013 from

Nannminn Mondai Toha [What is Refugees?]. (2011). Gaimusyo. Retrieved May 28, 2013 from

Sekai no Nannmin[Refugees in the World]. (2010). AAR Japan. Retrieved May 28, 2013 from

Be a true advanced nation, Japan

by Tatsuya Haishi

Japan is known as a country that is reluctant to accept refugees compared to other advanced countries. I know that receiving refugees or asylum seekers has many difficulties. There are may be illegal aliens pretending to be refugees. It is need that the budgets to give protection to them. Still, rights of human beings are more important. It is natural that refugees and asylum seekers live comfortably as humanity; moreover, I think they will benefit Japan in the future.

The working population of Japan has been declining and Japan will need more labor. Allowing to refugees or asylum seekers and hiring them is one of the effective solutions against this problem. Of course employment issue of Japanese young people is also important but I do not think the employment rate of the youth of Japan would increase even without accepting refugees and asylum seekers. Therefore more Japanese companies should hire them like Uniqlo, which has a sort of exchange internship program for refugees. One of the Uniqlo’s Japanese staff says “Refugees have various experiences, so the Japanese staff are also learning a lot from them.” I think a refugee who can take this program is limited and he or she is really smart but there must be other refugees who are much more talented than Japanese workers. Maybe refugees will lead Japan’s economy in the upcoming aging society with fewer children. However, we must not forget that rights of a refugee are far more important than expectation for a refugee as labor. Ensuring refugee’s human rights takes top priority.

I believe that Japan has a duty to help refugees, but if I say that, there must be people who insist, “You are looking down on refugees!” or “The word of ‘help’ sounds condescending!” I hate arrogant attitude, too. Yet, we should discuss whether I am condescending or not after refugees are guaranteed their safety. No one can choose where they are born and they are brought up. I was born in Japan and have never left from this country. However, if I was born in a troubled area, I might be a refugee now and leave from my homeland. The only reason I am not a refugee is because I was born in Japan. The only reason I think that Japan should accept more refugees is because I was born in an advanced country with my right to live. Japan has to allow to refugees just because Japan is an advanced nation. There is no reason except that.

Japan should admit more refugees

by Fujisaka Shunsuke

I think Japan should accept more refugees. Comparing with other developed countries, Japan’s refugee is too little. Person who has a risk of persecution is admitted as refugees in Japan. However to be refugee in Japan is very difficult. Only 1 percent can be refugee and other 99 percent of people still have to find other place to go. I think Japan should admit more refugees. There are two main reasons why Japan should accept refugees. First refugees will be a labor. Second it is also good for refugees to be in Japan.

First, refugees will be a good labor mostly in the country side. It is because there is a shortage of labor in the countryside. For example there is shortage of farmer. Therefore farmers want more labor to work. Some people might say that farmer is hard work and it is 3K work in Japan. 3K stands for kitanai (dirty), kiken (dangerous), kitsui (difficult). I do not think farmer is 3K work. Many farmers have a pride to be a farmer and farmer support all Japanese by making food. Even if farmer is 3K work it is better than nothing. However to change the system of refugee is important. Government should change the society that refugee can get job easily. Refugees must be treated like Japanese.

Second it is also good for refugees to be in Japan. I think Japan’s economy is stable comparing with European countries. I think there are a lot of people those who want to come to Japan as a refugee. That’s why insurance is good for refugees. They will have a more chance to get insurance than other countries. For example in Japan there is a system of the public health insurance for whole nation but America does not have this system of the insurance. It means that Japan ‘s insurance is good.

In conclusion Japan should admit more refugees. Due to refugees will be a good labor and it is good for refugees to be in Japan rather than to be in any other countries. It is also good for Japan to admit more refugees because it changes other countries impression of Japan. Other countries will have good impression to Japan. Finally I want to say that refugees must be cared by government and society after they became refugees. Aftercare is important for refugees. To support continuously is necessary to be a good country for refugees.

Japan and Refugees

by Shoki Fujimoto

I think Japan should keep current stance on acceptance of refugee. There are some reasons why I think so. First, Japan is not suitable for accepting refugees or immigration. Japanese national feeling is kind of exclusive for foreign people. This attitude was promoted by the fact that Japan has not accepted refugees historically. Japanese people tend to feel fear against foreign people for some reasons. Moreover, there are not small numbers of people that kind of look down on refugees.

Second, we cannot ignore historical reason. Those who that say America and European countries’ cases as why Japan should take in refugees often say that we had better follow the stance of international society. According Ministry of Justice, Japan admitted only 21 refugees in 2011. On the other hand, America approves on average about 90 thousand refugees every year. However, this opinion does not include important factor that Japan has been a country of “Japanese”. This does not mean that I would like to say “Japan is monoracial country and there is no foreigner in Japan”. Needless to say, there has been and are many foreign people in Japan, and they contributed to Japan’s development by working for Japan like introducing culture, and bringing technology. However, comparing Japan with America and European countries, power of foreign people that contributed to build country is very small. America is very new country created by foreigners and in Europe, there has been numberless exchanges including war. It means that such countries were built by foreigners. Therefore, variation of way of building country makes difference on the stance on foreigners.

Third, acceptance of refugees has few merits on Japan. In our debate in EKK class, affirmative side claimed that we can solve Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population problem by refugee’s labor. However, we cannot agree with this opinion. First of all, I do not think it is good that compensating vacuum of labor by using refugees. If we aim to supply labor by foreign people, we should increase number of immigrants, but Japanese literacy is must, I think. Besides, designating refugee’s work and where they live means restricting their human rights. This is reverse of intension.

Certainly, it is so sad to refuse refugees who have run away from their countries, and personally I would like to admit refugees. However, my intention is one thing, and Japan’s national interest is another thing. Even if current Japan’s stance changes, it will take a long time to change its policy. To conclude, Japan should not change its stance if truly we aim at Japan’s national interest.


Ministry of Justice. [] (retrieved May 30, 2013).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan [] (retrieved May 30, 2013)