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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

jica
The Director-General for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently met with the Iranian Foreign Ministry for Expatriates’ Affairs on August 6th. During this meeting the participants discussed activities of mutual interest including natural disaster management, environment protection, and Afghanistan reconstruction.

These activities would build upon the relationship already established between Iran and the JICA, the Japanese governmental agency responsible for official development assistance. In 2011 the Iranian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the JICA.

JICA’s activities in Iran fall under five main headings: enhancement of domestic industries and vocational training, reduction of the income gap between urban and rural communities, environmental preservation, water resource management, and disaster prevention.

Under the first topic area, enhancement of domestic industries and vocational training, JICA provides extensive technical assistance to Iranian government officials and the private sector. These activities are hoped to provide job growth and opportunities for Iranian unemployed. The reduction of the income gap projects focus on agricultural development in the country. The activities include infrastructure development and rural community development. In addition, a JICA expert advises the Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture. Environmental protection activities include air pollution, energy management, ecosystem conservation, and wetland management among others. A JICA expert advises on water resource management and is placed under Iran’s Ministry of Energy. Iran is prone to devastating seismic earthquakes. JICA experts work closely with Iranian counterparts to devise forecasts and disaster management plans, as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction plans for the country.

The meeting with Iranian officials occurred after the Japanese government reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing sanctions again Iran in response to the country’s nuclear program. In March the US agreed to a 180-day extension for a waiver on Iran sanctions for Japan. Japan imports significant amounts of crude oil from Iran. However, an agreement between the US and Japan has permitted Japanese banks to access US financial systems, despite imposing the strict sanction against Iran. Japan agreed to continue to reduce their imports of Iranian crude oil.

Development programs implemented by other nations are often denied permission to operate inside Iran. However, the JICA has maintained a relationship with the country and successfully implemented activities in Iran since 2007. These development activities avoid more controversial topics such as women’s rights and democracy and governance but the relationship established between the two countries is also important to future programs and increased understanding. While Japan continues to reduce their imports of crude oil (depriving Iran out of much needed trade) it appears they will continue to cooperate on development programs that have the potential to positively affect Iranian citizens.

– Callie D. Coleman

Sources: FARS News Agency, JICA, Platts