Japan maintains tough stance on refugees, only 20 accepted in 2017

Japan maintains tough stance on refugees, only 20 accepted in 2017, by Ryujiro Komatsu.

Japan received a record 19,628 asylum applications in 2017, but only 20 were successful, according to preliminary figures released by the Justice Ministry on Feb. 13.

There were 8,727 more applications compared with 2016, when 28 people were granted refugee status. …

The ministry defended the outcome of the last year’s asylum application screening, saying it was conducted in accordance with the U.N. Refugee Convention, which went into force in 1954.

According to the convention, a refugee is “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

But critics in and out of Japan say the government’s interpretation is too literal and strict. …

According to the ministry, applications seeking refugee status were filed by individuals from 82 countries in 2017, most of them in Asia. … “In those countries, the situation does not exist to spawn refugees, and many are applying for the purpose of working,” a ministry official said.