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Japan's proposed immigration law revisions deal fresh blow to refugees

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The 56-year-old converted from Islam to Christianity and said he would be considered an apostate and could even face execution if he returns to Iran.

Isn’t it ironic that this converted Christian fled to Japan, which has a history of brutally torturing and executing tens of thousands of Christians.

26 ( +34 / -8 )

If Japan does not want refugees, then why did Japan sign the UN Conventions of Refugee Status in 1951, 1981 and 1982?

Maybe Japan just wants to look good on paper.

23 ( +32 / -9 )

I love Japan but Japan is possibly one of the worst destinations in the world for refugee status. Why not try Canada? And it seems pretty odd that you would be deported being legally married to a Japanese wife.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Nana was only able to avoid deportation because the flight captain, who saw him being forcibly pushed onto the plane by an immigration officer, refused to fly with him aboard. Nana is currently seeking state compensation for assault by the officer.

kudos for the captain for refusing to be part a unjust system. If only politicians had such empathy.

16 ( +39 / -23 )

Lots of comments on how Japan needs foreigners for labour.

You are confusing two issues. Acceptance of refugees / asylum seekers is not the same as regular immigration. Immigration is very straightforward in Japan, if you meet the requirements.

Labour shortage is not the issue here. This issue is illegal over stays of rejected asylum seekers.

15 ( +26 / -11 )

Japan will need millions of new workers to make the work and pay their taxes to keep the society afloat with millions of old people.

@zichi, no we don't. What we need is for our youth to take up responsibility and do the dirty work themselves. Most youth think some jobs are beneath them and which is why the labor section is in such dire need of more work force. Your so called millions of new workers are just cheap labors which big compnaies try to profit out of instead of hiring Japan own existing work force. I know many japanese people who either is freelancing or just without a job sitting at home doing nothing.

All society population eventually reach it's peak and from there would go down. Is the cycle of life. The process will repeat. What goes up must come down and will also go up again. We might suffer for some years but we have to learn to adapt and shoulder the responsibility of improving our nation ourselves. The process of continue national growth and development is a illusion. It will only worsen the situation. More profit for big companies means more pollution and worsening living space,because the government would have you think increasing more population is a good thing.

12 ( +21 / -9 )

The Japanese, both officials and the population, look to western Europe, and after evaluating the situation there with refugees, as well as immigration, have decided that there is no way they want to go down that path.

11 ( +38 / -27 )

This article makes no mention of the thousands of asylum seekers being used as cheap labour by major Japanese companies such as Subaru:

"What Subaru does not tout is that its boom is made possible in part by asylum seekers and other cheap foreign laborers from Asia and Africa.

They work at the automaker and its suppliers at Subaru’s main production hub, here in the Japanese town of Ota, two hours north of Tokyo. Many are on short-term contracts. At Subaru, some foreign workers earn about half the wage of their Japanese equivalents on the production line. At the automaker’s suppliers, workers are often employed through brokers who charge up to a third of the workers’ wages. From countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Mali and China, these foreign laborers are building many of the parts for the Forester, including its leather seats, often in grueling conditions."

A key source of gray-market labor for Subaru’s suppliers is asylum seekers. In Japan, these people fall broadly into two categories: The bigger group of asylum seekers is made up of those who are allowed to work and have permits that need to be renewed every six months. A smaller group is made up of asylum seekers who are on “provisional release” from immigration detention and are working without permits. Under government immigration rules, these people are allowed to stay in the country while their asylum applications are reviewed. But they are not allowed to work."

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/japan-subaru/

This article is six years old but one doubts anything much has changed. It's worth reading as a reminder of what proper journalism looks like and the reality of modern Japan.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Japan will need millions of new workers....

So that employers can pay rock-bottom wages and earn sky-high profits, with the overall effect of dragging down the economy, whose GDP is driven 60-70% by personal consumption.  

No Japanese want to do the dirty work i.e. roadside worker, construction worker, or any hard labor job...

Because the wages and working conditions are so awful. Unionize the positions, pay decent wages, provide healthcare and other benefits, and flexible holiday systems. There's too much construction going on anyway, thanks to such make-work mega projects like the Olympics and the habit of tearing down concrete buildings after 40 years life.

10 ( +17 / -7 )

Japan might as well not accept refugees in the first place. And refugees should look elsewhere to seek asylum.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

The world is ‘aware’ but that will never sway policy changes by the Japanese government.

“Mar 31, United Nations' called on the Japanese govt to review proposed revisions, saying they failed to meet international standards from the standpoint of human rights.”

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The Indian asylum seeker could have gone to another country to apply for a refugee status rather than wasting 13 years in Japan. The new legislation is designed to deport illegal aliens trying to stay in Japan by pretending to be refugees.

9 ( +20 / -11 )

Japan will need millions of new workers to make the work and pay their taxes to keep the society afloat with millions of old people.

That's a very different issue to asylum. If it is the case that Japan will need millions of immigrant workers, then Japan should be able to decide which people to allow in, depending on their skills, qualifications, and links to the country.

The "asylum" system is not about importing workers, it is about providing protection to people. Except that it just doesn't work. The people most in need of help around the world are the least likely to be able to afford a plane ticket to Japan.

The problem is that the two get mixed up, including by the government. So we have a situation where thousands of 'asylum seekers' are allowed to enter the country, work for low wages in bad conditions, and are then expected to leave. The Japanese government, by allowing this, effectively encourages it.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I love Japan but Japan is possibly one of the worst destinations in the world for refugee status. Why not try Canada? And it seems pretty odd that you would be deported being legally married to a Japanese wife

Ok for the first part.

Under most country's refugee regulations as well as the UN convention.

If the person lands in a signatory country they must apply in the first country they officially enter.

So unless there is a direct flight or one where one remains on the plane, often the refugee has no choice but to apply in the country they first deplane in.

This is why many enter EU countries illegally trying to get to another EU country that has more lenient refugee rules and why many central American refugees do the same trying to bypass the USA heading straight to Canada.

As for the marriage things, immigration doesn't give two bits about that.

I got divorced was given custody of the children, told I could continue on my spouse visa until it ended then get a long term visa.

A year later they changed the law stating after divorce you have 90 to get a new visa or you are illegally in Japan, but never told anyone about the change, when I found out I tried applying for a new visa, they claimed I over staid and was to be deported, only one problem ( 2 problems) the children so the court intervened stating as the only support for the children immigration had to give me a long term visa or PR as per the Japanese supreme Court ruling in the early 90s.

Immigration was not happy about that, and since then I have been refused PR on every occasion, been here 30 years, remarried own my business a house, etc... Still no PR.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Do refugees need a fresh blow?

"Japan's proposed immigration law revisions deal fresh blow to refugees"

8 ( +11 / -3 )

"Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer who specializes in helping people from Myanmar apply for refugee status, notes that none of the 2,000 Myanmarese who applied for asylum in the past three years was approved."

And yet, people here pretend to be concerned for the fate of Myanmarese. I guess it's like a lot of things here, "Welcome! We hope you love and enjoy Japan! But, please don't stay..."

It isn't really any wonder why Japan ranks so poorly on human rights, and at a time when it is marching to its death as an aging nation, you would think Japan would welcome the chance to bring in some more people (forgetting about the fact they are desperate and likely face and meet their deaths when Japan says no).

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The Immigration Bureau in Japan comes under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry. I guess that just says it all. How can it not be just a sham?

7 ( +14 / -7 )

The 56-year-old converted from Islam to Christianity and said he would be considered an apostate and could even face execution if he returns to Iran.

Even though apostasy is technically illegal under Islamic law (and you won't be able to change your religion on official government IDs), it's not something the Iranian government actually prosecutes people over, let alone executes them. Even leading human rights organisations like the ICHRI acknowledge this. To be recognised as a refugee you need a reasonable fear of persecution, not a far-fetched hypothetical one.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Japan has the sovereign right to pass legislation for which feels fit. Objectively, though, one compares how refugees are treated in their home countries. If you feel it is unfair, and this being not only the subject of unfairness foreign nationals face in Japan then you should seriously consider you own position that the future may behold to continue to live there. You will never be on a level playing field in Japan and face a continual up-hill struggle in various aspects of Japan life.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

This really seems like pure spite. What, having a system that only recognizes about a dozen refugees a year isn't stingy enough?

The real issue with Japan's refugee system is a bit subtler than the numbers make it appear though. The reason they reject so many applications is that most of the people applying for it aren't actually refugees from conflict zones, but rather they are workers who came to Japan on other visas (like technical trainees) and want to stay permanently. So most of the applicants are from neighboring Asian countries like Vietnam or the Philippines.

BUT, why are there so few applicants from conflict zones like Syria, Afghanistan, etc? Because in order to apply to be recognized as a refugee in Japan you have to physically be in Japan. And in order to get on a plane to come to Japan from any of those countries, you need a visa. Which needless to say you won't get. Its kind of a catch-22. And its deliberately designed to work that way so the government doesn't have to accept many refugees. The only ones who are physically able to apply to qualify as refugees are people who are already in the country who, having been allowed into the country in the first place, have already been screened to ensure they won't be able to qualify as refugees.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Several days before,  in front of Whitehouse,

PM Suga talked falsehood as if Japan values human rights.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Clearly Japan can do better than 1%

5 ( +16 / -11 )

there's been lots of deaths already in that detention centers... some are suicides and some due negligence and malnutrition.

what is clear is that the immigration agents are abusing people.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Japan will need millions of new workers to make the work and pay their taxes to keep the society afloat with millions of old people.

No, Japan doesn’t need millions of new workers. Downsizing the population will have its challenges but the nation will muddle through and come out stronger in the end of this demographic transition.

4 ( +28 / -24 )

Japan needs to rely on foreigners. These people can contribute to society, and pay taxes! The population is aging and declining.

4 ( +21 / -17 )

As many have said before, the Japanese government is wise for not wanting to end up in 20 years like the disasters that are the USA, EU and UK. Uncontrolled illegal immigration. The majority of these people are economic immigrants.

The gov't has made the right decision.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

CrickyToday  06:47 am JST

Nana was only able to avoid deportation because the flight captain, who saw him being forcibly pushed onto the plane by an immigration officer, refused to fly with him aboard. Nana is currently seeking state compensation for assault by the officer.

kudos for the captain for refusing to be part a unjust system. If only politicians had such empathy.

I doubt very much that was the reason for his refusal. He probably surmised correctly that this passenger would have been a danger to his flight, crew and passengers and probably posed a risk of an attempted hi-jacking to prevent him going back to his native country. No Captain wants a desperate individual on their flight regardless of their personal situation. I would have to agree with him if I am correct in my interpretation of his actions. If the J-gov want to repatriate such a person they should do it themselves on a military flight and not hand the problem over to a commercial carrier!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I don't get it. The one guy is married to a Japanese woman. Doesn't he get a spousal visa?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Here is an interesting fact an immigration lawyer told me.

If someone is in Japan applying as a refugee or even illegally over stay,

If they are married to a Japanese and have children.

A simple thing is to get the spouse to agree to a "divorce" and to give custody of the children to the non Japanese.

Under a supreme Court ruling it is a violation of the children's rights to deny them their only supporting parent (Japan does not recognise dual custody), so by default either a long term visa or PR must be given to the custodial parent.

Remain "officially" divorced with separate addresses for at least one visa renewal.

Then it is usually set and the couple can remarry.

( No this was not my situation)

But I know several women that have done just that after overstaying working in clubs and then getting married to Japanese men.

Officially lawyer cannot advise clients to do this and yes it still has a chance of failing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not just Japan. Many other Asian countries are not welcoming to refugees.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan should be aiming to take in as many of the super-educated, tech-savvy, Japan-loving kids under 23 as possible. Future "labor shortage crisis" solved, and theyd fit into the culture seamlessly.

Sorry but not everyone has the breaks in life to get an education like you suggest.

Economic migrants are every bit as relevant to Japan as anyone else.

We can enjoy our culture and Japanese culture in equal amounts.

We don't have to go down the right wing nationalist rabbit hole in order to fit in.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan is missing out on many people who given the chance would strive to better their lives.

Japan loses...

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Japan will need millions of new workers to make the work and pay their taxes to keep the society afloat with millions of old people.

2 ( +27 / -25 )

Why would Japan want to accept any refugees at all from far off places like the Middle East and Africa?

2 ( +26 / -24 )

Dura lex, sed lex

Refugees do know Japan is tough but still have a try. As they know they can have a try many times and stay long.

But after two negative tries, the message is clear, only one lucky guy can go through.

That’s why Europe is a heaven

2 ( +8 / -6 )

1% of accepted applications is ludicrously low.

1% is not unusual given the circumstances. Japan is an island at the edge of the world which doesn't border any warzones and has very few direct flights to third world countries. The number of refugees who claim asylum at the airport is vanishingly small. Far more asylum claims are lodged by visa over-stayers after being caught working illegally. For most people it's just a last ditch attempt to halt deportation.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Japan is very short of workers, several companies work 7x24 and demand daily overtime from workers, up to 45 hours a month. Before the pandemic some business had 160 vacancies for every 100 candidates. So foreigners should be welcome.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Due to the current illegal actions of the PRC, there will potentially be millions of genuine refugees from HK, at risk of execution due to their protests for human rights, democracy and freedom.

I very much doubt that.

Japan-loving kids under 23 as possible

Japan loving? Have you ever been to Hong Kong?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think we Japan can do better in improving the status of such people.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Japanese government need to support families with kids,invest in own citizens who will start work and pay taxes in years to come.

Education,living costs and kids raising costs are not cheap here.

Government who will invest in kids will invest in own future.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

smithjapan

And yet, people here pretend to be concerned for the fate of Myanmarese. I guess it's like a lot of things here, "Welcome! We hope you love and enjoy Japan! But, please don't stay..."

I couldn’t agree more with your thinking,the hypocrisy of their society is evident and I can also agree with when you say that there is no wonder why they are so low ranked in the human rights statistics.

Interesting when Mr.Suga speaks for his country as a paladin of human rights and democracy in front of Biden.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

As many have said before, the Japanese government is wise for not wanting to end up in 20 years like the disasters that are the USA, EU and UK.

How are we immigrants to these countries causing disasters, exactly?

Just because we don't sign up to the ethno nationalism in the countries we live in, doesn't mean we can't contribute and become part of the fabric of the nations.

And most of us care deeply for our host nations. Which is why, on occasion, we criticise the negative aspects about it.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

If they can't find room in their hearts, they'll never find room on the ground...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"I felt like I was reborn after spending so many days just enduring. I plan to live in this country for the rest of my life," he said through a Japanese interpreter.

He lives in Japan since more than 13 years and needs still an interpreter? Maybe if he tried to study to be fluent in English and Japanese, he would surely qualify for a working visa in a company doing business in the Middle East. No need to apply for asylum.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Japan stay strict.

There is no need for any undocumented so called refugees.

Many people in Japan are hardly affected by covid situation and so called lockdowns so these are priority,dont need to mentione elders and people with disabilities.

Just check what is going on in Europe/Italy,Greece etc/.

Sure these in need need help but always keep gold rule-check all details abt applicants.make sure at least who they are,why hey want live in Japan,what are their chances to join japanese community,get employed,pay taxes as everyone do...

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Notice the countries who have millions of other violators they admit have less peace within. Too much protesting.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's a terrible piece of legislation that will make lives worse for already downtrodden people. Unfortunately, Japan is far from the only culprit, even though 1% of accepted applications is ludicrously low.

What every nation in the global North needs is to realise their wealth is directly link to someone else's poverty. Unless that happens, there will be refugees "coming to your country" and staying. Legally or illegally. For many, having few rights as illegal immigrants is preferable to risking death in their original countries, frequently due to wars caused by or dictatorships supported by developed nations.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

No, Japan doesn’t need millions of new workers. Downsizing the population will have its challenges but the nation will muddle through and come out stronger in the end of this demographic transition.

Are you leaving our host nation, then?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Countries who don't want refugees should have the right to refuse them, but then they shouldn't be signatories to documents that require them to take them. That said, the relative ease that allows Japan to send them back does have its advantages, and at least gives the government the option to do so.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

William77: "Interesting when Mr.Suga speaks for his country as a paladin of human rights and democracy in front of Biden."

While I think Biden is doing a pretty good job thus far and has actually lived up to a lot of his promises despite the opposition, I wish he would have called out Suga on this and said, "I hope that, as the beacon of human rights you claim Japan is, you will swear to the media here and now to take on more refugees and prove it" or something like that. I think Suga would have stroked out then and there. But, as it is, Suga can come home and tell the people here that they are the greatest, unique, most welcoming, deserving of the praise of the world, etc., and they will desperately eat it up. He's also safe to now say others cannot mettle in Japan's affairs and we don't need foreign opinions (on topics we disagree on).

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The 56-year-old converted from Islam to Christianity and said he would be considered an apostate and could even face execution if he returns to Iran.

playing the Christian NGO card to get some upper class white American to do something with their spoilt spare life, and bash Iran at the same time. But japan is not a Christian country, so nobody will listen here.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Let them all in. Japanese can be so uptight. A big ol' injection of foreign culture could be just the thing Japan is looking for. Can't wait for some of that ethnic cuisine.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

If Japan does not want refugees, then why did Japan sign the UN Conventions of Refugee Status in 1951, 1981 and 1982?"

They want real refugees...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I support more leniency considering that the numbers are incredibly low. In principle I think refugees should be bound to apply for asylum in the first safe country that the reach.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Rather than these unskilled "economic migrants", Japan really should be making more effort to accept the immigrants that will bring prosperity, skills and hi tech businesses to Japan - the youth of Hong Kong.

Due to the current illegal actions of the PRC, there will potentially be millions of genuine refugees from HK, at risk of execution due to their protests for human rights, democracy and freedom.

The UK has pledged to take in the older ones (over 23 yo), Japan should be aiming to take in as many of the super-educated, tech-savvy, Japan-loving kids under 23 as possible. Future "labor shortage crisis" solved, and theyd fit into the culture seamlessly.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

With a declining population and low birth rate, this country is sure going back assward in trying to draw foreign labor. I wonder what Ogata Sadako would say if she saw how here country were treating refugees?

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

You have to respect a country that wants to keep it's culture. By flooding your country with low wage earners (as stated above), enriching corporate big wigs, driving out natives looking for good work, you will reap what you sow.

@Jonathan Prin: Agree.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

kudos for the captain for refusing to be part a unjust system. If only politicians had such empathy.

Wrong. Shame on the captain for interfering with a legal deportation and making the already difficult job of an immigration officer more difficult.

"Nana" has no legal right to be in the country and no right to resist deportation.

By your morals anyone who resists arrest or deportation deserves sympathy.

-9 ( +26 / -35 )

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