Japan had 20,000 applications for asylum in 2017. It accepted 20

Feb 16, 2018 by

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Just 0.1% of asylum seekers won the right to remain, as campaigners say ‘door has been closed’ to those in need

Japan accepted just 20 asylum seekers last year – despite a record 19,628 applications – drawing accusations that the country is unfairly closing its door on people in genuine need.

Since 2010, Japan has granted work permits to asylum seekers with valid visas to work while their refugee claims were reviewed, a change the government says has fuelled a dramatic rise in “bogus” applications from people who are simply seeking work.

According to figures released this week, the number of applicants in 2017 rose 80% from a year earlier, when 28 out of almost 11,000 requests were recognised.

Among the thousands of people whose applications have been turned down is Jean, who arrived in 2001 after fleeing ethnic violence in his home country of Burundi.

Seventeen years on, Jean remains in legal limbo – a victim, campaigners say, of Japan’s strict policy towards refugees, and a wider resistance to immigration.

Jean, a Hutu, had been thrown on to a pile of burning tyres after refusing to join the fight against the Tutsi. He escaped, but the incident, which left him with burns to his right leg, convinced him he could never return.

“At that time I was just a simple person selling maize and peanuts on the street. I had no idea what they were fighting for,” he told the Guardian in an interview near his home east of Tokyo.

Source: Japan had 20,000 applications for asylum in 2017. It accepted 20 | World news | The Guardian

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