Why Do Less Than 1% of Refugee Visa Applicants in Japan Get Recognized?

Published on May 21, 2015
Download Why Do Less Than 1% of Refugee Visa Applicants in Japan Get Recognized?
Why Do Less Than 1% of Refugee Visa Applicants in Japan Get Recognized?

So in the past, I have mentioned Japan's stand out poor showing and track record in terms of support for refugees. Basically, in spite of Japanese such as Sadako Ogata having been head of the UNHCR for 10 years, and the proud history cited even by PM Abe, who on his recent visit to the US went to a museum featuring the work of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara (the "Japanese Schindler") during WWII who rescued thousands of Jewish refugees, Japan retains an abysmal record on offering asylum to refugees.

To give you an idea, in 2014, Japan received 5,000 refugee visa applications. Of those applications, only 11 were approved. Sugihara personally gave transit visas to 6,000 Jews in 1 year saving their lives at the time.

The visa process takes about 3 years, and has a less than 1% chance of success. Applicants usually have to wait for six months before they can get a temporary work visa to support themselves, and even then, finding work can be very difficult.

The Japan Association for Refugees and groups like it provide support for the visa applications of refugees, and basic life support. The group receives certain government subsidies for specific purposes, but relies upon private donations to provide the full range of services it does to help refugee applicants survive and support themselves as they go through this process, as well as find alternatives in the likely event they are not successful with their application.

Today, I went up to donate some large sized summer clothes I don't need, and got to talk to a member of the group about who these refugees applying in Japan are, why it is so tough, what support the group provides, and what kind of support the group itself needs. I did a slightly longer and more detailed interview in Japanese. I learned a lot and I hope you find the videos interesting.

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Who am I? I am a Tokyo based video blogger, a permanent resident who has spent my entire adult working life in Japan (16 years now and counting). I make videos to try to bring Japan, and the rest of the world closer together, featuring aspects of Japanese culture, current events and trends for those abroad, and to share how the world sees Japan with Japanese. I also love gadgets, news, music and photography, and pull these elements into my Japan themed videos.

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