Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, said Japan must improve its own living standards before concerning itself with Syrian refugees. Human rights groups and advocacy groups are highly critical of Japan’s refugee policies. Here are 10 facts about Japan refugees.

10 Facts About Japan Refugees

  1. The number of foreign people applying for refugee status in 2016 was up 44 percent, at an all-time high of just fewer than 11,000.
  2. Japan only accepted 28 refugees in 2016, an increase of one from 2015. Most of those applications came from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Bangladesh.
  3. In 2016, 97 people were allowed to remain in Japan for humanitarian reasons. They were not granted refugee status, however. According to Brian Barbour of the Japan Association for Refugees, 99 percent of asylum applications are denied.
  4. People applying for refugee status in 2016 included: 1,829 Indonesians, 1,451 Nepalese, 1,412 Filipinos, 1,143 Turks, 1,072 Vietnamese, 938 Sri Lankans, 650, Myanmarese, 470 Indians, 318 Cambodians and 289 Pakistanis.
  5. Japan’s population is shrinking and along with it, Japan’s labor force. Still, Japan does not accept unskilled workers, and there are no plans to increase the number of applicants granted refugee status. Japan has introduced a category that will allow for a large number of unskilled workers as trainees. Also, people with a student visa are allowed to work up to 28 hours per week.
  6. Only 69 Syrians applied for refugee status between 2011 and 2016 in Japan. In order to apply, applicants must go to Japan.
  7. Japan only accepts refugees who are being persecuted for political reasons; they do not accept economic refugees. Japan is closed to thousands of people seeking asylum including Syrians. Those who make it to Japan rarely have their refugee status recognized.
  8. Japan attempts to compensate for its decision not to take refugees by donating money to the UNHCR. In 2016, Japan was the fourth-largest donor, giving more than $164 million. In September 2016 Japan said it would provide $1.6 billion in assistance for Syrians and Iraqis engulfed in conflict.
  9. Japan plans to grant refugee status to 300 Syrians over the next five years. This number includes study abroad students and their families. Between 2017 and 2021, Japan plans to work with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to accept 20 Syrian students and their spouses and children each year if taking refuge in Lebanon and Jordan.
  10. In a move designed to show that Japan is willing to help with the Syrian refugee crisis, the government announced plans to accept 150 Syrian refugees over a period of five years as a part of the JICA program and the Japanese Government Scholarship program.

These 10 facts about Japan refugees make it clear that instead of accommodating refugees, Japan prefers to place a financial band-aid on the refugee crisis.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr