Saturday 22 June 2024

Japan accepted a record high of 303 asylum seekers in 2023 but REJECTED 98% of applicants

 Japan granted asylum to 303 individuals in 2023 – a record high – but still small compared to the 98 percent whose applications were rejected.

The Japanese Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed this number in March, surpassing the 202 individuals granted asylum in 2022. Despite this increase, the approval rate for asylum seekers remained low at just 2.2 percent.

All in all, the total number of asylum seekers who lodged their applications in the Land of the Rising Sun reached 13,823 in 2023. According to Kyodo News, this is the second-highest number after the 19,629 people who sought asylum in 2017.

The increase comes amid changes to the stringent Japanese immigration laws, which created a quasi-refugee status for foreign nationals fleeing active conflict zones. Kyodo News also provided a breakdown of the 303 refugees whose asylum applications were approved.

Japan has seen a significant increase in refugee applications from countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia – representing more than a threefold increase from 2022 figures. A majority of the accepted refugees, 237 individuals, hailed from Afghanistan. Many of the refugees from Afghanistan were employees of the Japan International Cooperation Agency who fled the country after the fall of Kabul, officials said.

The Japanese Immigration Services Agency (ISA) meanwhile said 27 refugees from Myanmar were granted asylum. There were also six nationals from Ethiopia whose applications for asylum were accepted, the agency added.

Of the 13,823 applications for refugee status recorded by Japanese authorities, the highest number of applicants came from Sri Lanka at 3,778. Applications from Turkey and Pakistan ranked second and third highest. 

"As border controls imposed due to COVID-19 have ended, the number of applicants for refugee status is increasing with the recovery of inbound travel to Japan," the ISA said.

Ukrainian refugees also permitted to live in Japan

In addition to those granted full refugee status, the MoJ reported that 1,005 individuals were also allowed to stay in Japan on humanitarian grounds. The ISA, which is under the purview of the Justice Ministry, took the circumstances in their home countries as a basis for their continued stay despite not being recognized as refugees. These 1,005 came from nations such as Myanmar and Ukraine, with the latter comprising most of that number.

The changes to Japan's refugee program under the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, which passed the National Diet in 2023, have also allowed for a new category of subsidiary protection. This program introduced on Dec. 1, 2023 seeks to provide asylum to persons escaping ongoing conflicts. According to Kyodo News, subsidiary protection gives successful applicants long-term resident visas in principle.

Since its introduction, 1,110 applications have been filed – with 1,101 of them from Ukrainian nationals escaping the war in their home nation. Of the total number, 647 applications for subsidiary protection were approved – 644 from Ukraine and three others from Sudan. 

"We will strive to provide prompt and stable protection while also making use of the complementary protection program," said Japanese Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi during a press conference.

Kyodo News mentioned that Japan has faced criticism for its strict immigration rules and for taking in far fewer refugees compared to countries in Europe and North America. But the Land of the Rising Sun's stance appears to be a prudent one, as it isn't burdened by a migrant crisis unlike the United States.

The National Pulse said, citing the U.S. Department of State, that 125,000 refugees are officially admitted into the U.S. annually – a number set by the Biden administration. It added that when the number of asylum seekers granted temporary residence pending an immigration court appearance is included, that number is much higher – likely in the millions per year.

No comments:

Post a Comment