back to TOPpage
back to General News about Refugees index

  General News about Refugees 2014

2014:  December   November   October   September   August   July    April    March    February

In December 2014
  1. A Regular Meeting for RAFIQ Volunteers

    As a result of our efforts in reaching out to people at various events, and as a result of the increasing number of people who are looking at RAFIQ's and KV Net's (the Kansai volunteering information site) websites, awareness of refugees is spreading, and RAFIQ is receiving increasing numbers of applications from those who wish to volunteer.
    As such, from January onwards we are planning to hold regular monthly meetings. These meetings will consist of introductory lectures and other refugee-related events for volunteers.
    Registered volunteers and those who are thinking of registering as volunteers are invited to take part in all the following events:

    An Explanation of RAFIQ's Activities (Usually on the 3rd Saturday of every month, from 14:00 at Minna no Ie, Takatsuki.)
    Reports on the previous month's activities are presented.

    An Introduction to Asylum Issues by RAFIQ: Let's Know More About Refugees (Usually on the 3rd Saturday of every month, from 15:00 at Minna no Ie, Takatsuki.)
    This introductory session, which we used to hold several times a year, is now to be held monthly. The same content will generally be presented every month, though specific topics may vary depending on the refugee applicants who are present.
    Please attend as many times as you like. You may need to attend many times in order to gain an understanding of Japan's complicated system, including issues such as the refugee status application process.
    Cost: 1,000yen (800yen for RAFIQ members, 500yen for students)

    An Introduction for Volunteers (Usually on the 3rd Saturday of every month, from 15:00 at Minna no Ie, Takatsuki.)
    Only for those who have attended the "Introduction to Asylum Issues" lecture mentioned above. The next event will be held on Saturday the 17th of January.

    A Lecture for RAFIQ Volunteers: "What is a Refugee Supporter?" (We are planning to hold these lectures once every two months, although this is under discussion.)
    For each bimonthly lecture, a volunteering activity is chosen as a topic. The first topic, from February onwards, is "Translation Matters" (provisionally).

    A Visit by RAFIQ to the Western Japan Detention Centre (Usually on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Meet at 12:30 at JR Ibaraki station.)
    We go to visit detained refugees on a monthly basis. A short lecture, "What is the Immigration Bureau?" will be provided for those who are attending for the first time.
    Cost: 500yen
    The next visit will be on the 13th of January (Tuesday).

    Nanmin Cafe (Usually on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. From 19:00 at Amanto, Nakazaki-cho, Osaka)
    Supporters and asylum seekers gather to discuss various issues. The venue is Salon de Amanto, a cafe which provides shelter for asylum seekers.
    Organiser: Neo Nanmin Cafe Network
    Cost: 1,500yen (includes a Nepalese curry and a glass of Chai tea).

  2. A Special "Real" Edition of Kansai TV's "Anchor" Programme was Broadcast, Dealing with Refugee Issues

    On the 20th of November, a special "Real" edition of Kansai TV's "Super News Anchor" programme was broadcast. Its title was "Refugees Who've Come to Japan", and it elicited reactions from all over the region.
    The programme was made in full partnership with, RAFIQ. It could not, however, have been made without the contributions of asylum applicants, supporters and supporter groups, and lawyers. Asylum applicants and supporters discussed their thoughts and ideas, while lawyers described the status of the application system in Japan. We are very grateful to all of you.
    One group recorded the broadcast, and they all watched it together in order to learn more about the issues it discussed. It seems an increasing number of people who want to volunteer or accompany RAFIQ on visits to detention centres have been searching for RAFIQ online, and filling out the form on our website.
    Text and photographs from the programme can be viewed via the "back numbers" section of the "Anchor" website (Japanise web). Please check it out if you missed the original broadcast.

  3. Over 4,500 Asylum Applicants in 2014!

    On the 4th of December, the Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) issued a press release which stated that over 4,000 asylum seekers had come to Japan in 2014 – the highest ever annual number.
    JAR's research is based on figures provided by NGOs which support refugees. 3,500 asylum seekers came to Tokyo, 500 to Nagoya, and 40 to Osaka. RAFIQ also helped provide these figures.
    These figures represent a huge increase on the previous highest figure – 3,260 in 2013. New "highest ever figures" are being set year-on-year.
    An article in the December 11th edition of the Mainichi Shimbun revealed that the number of asylum seekers was actually higher than that provided by the NGOs. According to this article, over 4,500 asylum seekers came to Japan in 2014.
    A specialist committee was set up in October 2013. It consists of academics and representatives from refugee support organisations. A report was prepared by the Minister of Justice's private consulting group, the "Immigration Control Policy Consulting Group", which was set up to debate the refugee application system. This report makes suggestions in four areas, including eligibility for protection, and clarity of process. It also includes opinions which do not agree with its findings.
    If it is not accepted at the final meeting on the 11th, it will be proposed to the consulting group on the 12th.

  4. A Sri Lankan Man Dies while in the Custody of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau – Questions Asked About His Medical Care

    On the 22nd of November, a Sri Lankan man, who had just been detained at the Tokyo Metropolitan Immigration Centre, died while in custody.
    According to reports, he was complaining of pains in his chest when he fell ill. Despite this, he was moved to a different room, and left there. Another detainee, who went to check on his condition, saw that he was unconscious on the ground. He was then taken to hospital.
    Two more deaths occurred in the Eastern Japan Immigration Centre in March 2014. In October 2013, another death occurred at the Tokyo Immigration Centre. Japanese immigration centres, including the Western Japan Immigration Centre in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, operate a system wherein detainees cannot elect to visit hospitals in order to see doctors. Doctors visit the immigration centres, but only for a few hours a week, and never on weekends. There is no doubt that there are issues with the healthcare at these institutions. If a detainee wishes to see a doctor, they must make a request to the immigration centre, and receive special permission. They have no idea when making the request how long it will take for them to receive permission.
    If immigration centres wish to detain people, then they have to protect the lives of detainees who have chronic diseases, or those who contract such diseases. In cases of emergency, doctors at immigration centres must act quickly in coordination with external hospitals. If immigration centres cannot do this, then their detainees should be allowed provisional release (i.e. they should not be detained there).
    Supporters' groups and the deceased's family have held press conferences, and the public have been informed of what happened via NHK and other media outlets.

    Register Your Objection:
    • Ministry of Justice
    To receive a form that allows you to express opinions and ideas relating to the Ministry of Justice, send a fax to 03-3692-7393.
    • Tokyo Immigration Bureau
    Tokyo Immigration Bureau General Affairs Section Phone Number: 03-5796-7250
    Tokyo Immigration Representative Fax: 03-5796-7125

  5. New Book: "The Rights of Refugees Under International Law" by James C. Hathaway (Published by Nippon Hyoronsha)

    The Japanese translation of this book, written by Prof. James C. Hathaway, a world-renowned authority on international refugee law, was published on the 20th of November 2014.
    Prof. Hathaway describes the aims of his book as follows:
    "This book attempts to clarify the true nature of the extremely particular systems and structures which surround the international rights of refugees. It is not only a description of the rights that refugees should have. It also provides an analysis of how these rights should be implemented in various countries, and therefore offers a balanced view."
    Hisashi Owada, the former head of the International Court of Justice, provides the following introduction to the book:
    "In the international community of the 21st century, we are in the middle of a huge transformation from a state-centric legal system to a human-centric legal system. The rights of refugees is a central issue in this transformation. What are the international standards that Japan must meet when offering asylum to refugees? I expect that this book will have a place on the desks of all those who take an interest in guaranteeing human security."

In November 2014
  1. 13 Years of Activity, Aiming to Strengthen Support for Refugees (RAFIQ General Meeting Report)

    At our general meeting, our joint representative Tanaka provided explanations on: "the state of affairs concerning refugees", "a report on RAFIQ's activities", and "RAFIQ's objectives, September 2014 – August 2015)". Our treasurer then gave a statement of our income and budget. All of the above were accepted, to applause. Joint representatives and steering committee members were introduced.

    "The State of Affairs Concerning Refugees" & "A Report on RAFIQ's Activities"

    All over the world, an increasing number of people are living as refugees, and this trend is becoming more widespread. Japan is seeing a year-on-year increase in numbers of asylum seekers. However, the number of applicants to which Japan actually grants asylum decreases every year. Between January and December 2013, six applications were accepted. (Two applications were accepted at the first stage; three applications were accepted at the second stage, after an initial appeal; one application was accepted after its rejection was successfully overturned in court.) This is an acceptance rate of 0.1%, close enough to 0.
    The tentative figure for asylum applications made in the first half of 2014 (January – June) is over 2,200 (according to UNHCR). There are fears that 2014 will see over 4,000 applications made in total. As the Ministry of Justice rushes to streamline the process, the number of applicants who lodge a formal appeal when their application is rejected is increasing.
    As this trend continues, in June 2013 the Refugee Forum (FRJ) announced a proposal for a new asylum law. Following on from this, a special committee concerned with the refugee recognition process has been set up within the Ministry of Justice. It is planning to produce its findings before the end of 2014.
    Ishikawa-san, an FRJ member, and Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer, are sitting on this committee. Although there are terrible problems with the composition of the committee, they are both working hard to secure the best possible outcome, and are receiving support from the FRJ.

    As for RAFIQ's own activities, we have mainly been involved with providing support to asylum seekers who have been provisionally released. We have provided new shelters, as well as medical support and support from the Amanto group. We have also been able to provide food for refugees from the Osaka Food Bank. We have also provided legal support to those who are applying for provisional release, making an application for asylum, or appealing against the rejection of their application. Our links with lawyers are getting increasingly stronger.
    In terms of educating the public, we provide an introductory lecture in Immigration Bureau-related problems once a month, when we go and visit detainees at immigration detention centres. We also hold two introductory lectures on refugee-related issues a month. We take part in various events, and appear as guest speakers along with refugees and asylum seekers. Our activities have not yet permeated the public consciousness, however.

    "RAFIQ's Objectives"

    Our objectives for the new year have been formed in accordance with the three year plan that was established last year. We intend to enhance our current activities, and improve the support we provide to refugees.
    Up to now, RAFIQ's activities have been funded almost entirely by our members. Since the amount of administrative work is increasing, however, we are aiming to become an organization that has full time staff. We would also like to increase our number of members and attract more volunteer staff.

    "Points Concerning Legal Support for Refugees" A Lecture by Keiichiro Hara (Lawyer)

    Mr. Hara is an Osaka-based lawyer who has a great deal of experience in dealing with refugees' cases. He presented various examples of the cases he had been involved with, by describing the roles of lawyers, supporters and refugees. He also talked about other matters of interest to lawyers and supporters, including his thoughts on refugees' court cases, the relationship between the treaty and the refugee recognition procedure, questions related to who is eligible for refugee status, and more.

    Here are some thoughts on what Mr. Hara had to say:
    It is very important for refugees to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after they have made their application. However, refugees do not attempt to go to court in order to win asylum in Japan. Instead it seems they start looking for a lawyer once their application has been rejected. As supporters, we do our best to establish whether applicants are eligible for refugee status, and try to secure lawyers for them. However, the problem is that not all lawyers are familiar with issues of asylum and, as a result, all refugee-related cases end up being dealt with by a small number of lawyers.
    Mr. Hara mentioned that there are examples of refugee supporters who are involved with refugees for a particular, specific reason. For example, they may have been part of a Japanese community in a refugee's country of origin, or they may be part of a religious group. As such, while they may be familiar with the situation in a refugee's country of origin, these supporters often lack a full understanding of the situation for refugees in Japan, and the issues they face. I thought about this, and considered to what extent such organisations, made up of individual refugee supporters, can understand refugee-related issues, and how much support can they really offer. I think it's important that they coordinate with us, and that we continue our education activities.

    Furthermore, I realised that when it's time for a verdict to be delivered in court, how close we are to the asylum seekers in question (how much we understand them) is important. There are a number of problems: In many court cases, verdicts that are not in accordance with UNHCR's Refugee Recognition Standards Handbook are delivered. In others, the standard of proof that is required to prove an asylum seeker's eligibility does not comply with international standards. We should bear in mind that the verdicts delivered in these courts have an enormous impact on people's lives.


    Reports were produced on the Amanto group, which provides shelter for refugees, and on the Osaka Foodbank.
    We also watched a DVD, provided by RAFIQ, of our visit to Hong Kong last autumn, when we met with various refugee support groups.
    • The Amanto Group
    The Amanto Group operate a building (a "shelter") which is used by staff as a shared house, and which provides temporary accommodation for refugees who have been provisionally released.
    The owner of the Amanto Group was not previously very well informed about refugee-related issues. After the shelter was set up, however, they started organising a number of locally based activities in order to think collectively about such issues. They planned the monthly Nanmin Cafe gathering, as well as other local events, and by ensuring that refugees take part in neighbourhood association events, they do their best to help refugees feel part of the community.
    Even after they have moved out of the shelter, refugees occasionally drop by the Amanto cafe to report on their situation, or for a discussion. In that sense, it really feels like a home to them.

    • The Osaka Food Bank
    Despite being less than two years old, the Osaka Food Bank now receives discarded food (for example, food that is nearing its use-by date), from 40 companies, and distributes it to around 70 organisations who are in need of it.
    RAFIQ used to make use of a similar system known as "Second Harvest", who would deliver food to refugees that were staying in shelters. The contents of these deliveries were not known until they arrived, however, so we decided to use the Food Bank instead. Now we receive a list of available food, from which we select what we require and make our requests. Receiving this food is a real blessing for refugees who have been provisionally released and are unable to work.

    • Social Gathering
    After our General Meeting, a gathering of supporters and refugees was held in another room.
    We enjoyed socialising and eating food prepared by refugees. We ate spring rolls and chicken curry with sweet potatoes, made by a Vietnamese refugee, as well as an Iranian dish made with potatoes and eaten with bread.
    Words: Carlan
  2. We Attended the Appeal Hearing and for State Compensation Relating to the Death of Mr. Suraj, Followed by a Debriefing (October 15th)
    (Takegaki's report and impressions.)

    I had received information that admission tickets to the appeal hearing would be allocated on a lottery basis. In the end, however, fewer than 50 people applied for tickets, meaning that everyone assembled could attend the hearing. I had thought that the trial would be concluded during this session. In the end, however, the session consisted only of a 10-minute explanation from Taniguchi-san, the lawyer, on his opposition to the defendant's (the state of Japan, its Ministry of Justice and Immigration Bureau) grounds for appeal. The state of Japan now has until the 26th of December to submit a written rebuttal to these oppositions. The third session of the appeal hearing will therefore take place at 10:30 on Wednesday the 21st of January, in the same court.

    Following the session at the high court, I attended a debriefing session at Hibiya Library, organised by APFS (the Asian People's Friendship Society). Once again, there was astonishment at the unjust nature of the state's dangerous actions and the attempts at covering them up, as well as at the nonsense spouted by Japan's (forensic) medical experts and their deference to authority.

    • A Summary of the Second Session at the High Court:

    The lawyer, Taniguchi-san, once again spoke logically and persuasively, explaining how unjust the state's claims are. I was moved by this.

    Taniguchi-san's Main Points:
    1. In the video and photographs that show him being suppressed, Mr. Suraj is not acting violently, but suppressive actions are shown, such as the covering of his eyes.
    2. It has been pointed out in other countries that similar suppressive actions are dangerous
    3. The claim made by the state in the first court hearing, that the cause of Mr. Suraj's death was a heart condition unrelated to outside interference, was completely missing from the documents listing its grounds for appeal. This indicates that the state's claim was unreasonable.
    4. Furthermore, in the documents listing the state's grounds for appeal, the state appears to have suddenly discovered the presence of another, different ailment. The very fact that this was brought up so suddenly and without prior mention raises doubts.
    5. The state presented the opinions of a number of forensic pathologists as evidence, but these opinions simply stated that Mr. Suraj was experiencing stress since he was probably about to be deported. The fact that his nose and mouth were blocked was not mentioned at all. These were extremely biased claims.
    • Debriefing Summary
    1. The state suddenly introduced a main factor contributing to Mr. Suraj's death. It is not clear whether this main factor was an illness or not.
    2. The forensic pathologists claimed that, if Mr. Suraj had suffocated, there would be red marks on his face. Since there were no such marks present, they concluded that the cause of death was not suffocation. However, their opinions ignored the fact that it's possible for red marks not to appear in cases of suffocation.
    3. Even assuming that Mr. Suraj did have some kind of illness, he was pushed to the ground, and the people who pushed him to the ground cannot avoid taking responsibility for doing so
    4. A written opinion was produced with the cooperation of a doctor from the UK. There were almost no doctors in Japan who would help.
    5. There is a new concept of "posture-related suffocation", a concept not yet accepted by the scientific community. The state says that unless someone is slouching for 30 minutes or more, it isn't a case of suffocation.In other countries, however, cases have been reported of victims suffocating after only five minutes in a slouched position. In the first trial, the cause of death was determined as "being put in a slouched position, with his nose and mouth blocked".
    6. No clear trend can be seen in past decisions made by the judge, Takizawa-san. While some cases have been decided by the exchange of documents only, and in others participants have only been given a minute or two to present their arguments, this time 10 minutes were allowed for the presentation of arguments and counter-arguments, which already makes this case something of an exception.
    7. The next session (21st January 2015) will probably consist only of counter-arguments by the state, though it is also possible that the case will be concluded on that date.

    Text: H. Takegaki

    Before the claim for state compensation was made, Mr. Suraj's family lodged a criminal complaint against the Immigration Bureau. The prosecutors decided not to indict. The Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution launched an investigation into the validity of this non-indictment. The results were received on the 28th of October. (See below.)
    When the claim for state compensation went to the district court, Mr. Suraj's family were victorious, and were awarded damages. (The cause and effect was recognised, and the court proposed 5,000,000yen in compensation.) Despite this, in the criminal case it was decided that there was no causal relationship between Mr. Suraj's death and his treatment by the Immigration Bureau. We think this decision is questionable.

    Death During Forced Deportation: Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution's Verdict on the Validity of the Decision not to Indict
    October 30th 20:59 NHK News
    Four years ago, a Ghanaian person who was being forcibly repatriated from Narita airport died after being suppressed by Immigration Bureau officers. Prosecutors decided not to indict these officers, a decision which the family of the deceased have stated is unjust. The committee for the Inquest of Prosecution has determined that the causal relationship between the officers' suppressive actions and the death of the deceased is unclear, and that therefore there are no issues with the decision not to indict. The decision not to indict is therefore deemed valid.
    In 2010, a Ghanaian man, who was 45 at the time, was found to be residing in Japan illegally, and was set to be forcibly repatriated from Narita airport. Before departure, he was pinned down in the passenger jet's cabin by officers from Tokyo's Immigration Bureau. He then lost consciousness and died. Charges of assault and cruelty by special public officers were filed against 10 Immigration Bureau officers.
    The Chiba district prosecutor's office decided not to indict any of the officers. In response to this decision, the wife of the deceased stated that he had been gagged, had his head pinned down, and had subsequently died of suffocation. As such, she stated that the decision not to indict was unjust. An official statement to this effect was made in April to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, concerning 9 of the 10 defendants.
    In response to this, Chiba's second Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution stated that the officers' suppressive actions were within the scopepermitted actions, and that the causal relationship between their actions and the deceased's death was unclear. It was therefore determined that there were no issues with the decision not to indict, which was deemed valid.
    In March this year, the Tokyo district court acknowledged the causal relationship between the officers' suppressive actions and the deceased's death. The state was instructed to pay 5,000,000yen in compensation. Both the deceased's family and the state are appealing to the Tokyo High Court.

In October 2014
  1. Report: World Nanmin Day (September 21st)

    The "World Nanmin Day" event took place on the 21st of September in Nakazaki-cho hall, Osaka. It was organised by the Neo Nanmin Cafe Network, of which RAFIQ is a member.
    The World Nanmin Day programme included dance and music performances, as well as a symposium and talks about refugee-related problems. There was also an area where visitors could sample cuisine from refugees' home countries, eating as much as they liked for 1,000yen. A number of stalls were set up outside the hall, operated by groups and individuals who support the cause. RAFIQ had a stall, as did Friends of RAWA, the Japan Burmese Relief Center and J-Fun Youth, which are members of World Refugee Day's western Japan action committee.
    This year, World Nanmin Day took place on September 21st, meaning it coincided with the International Day of Peace. As such, the theme was "Creating a Town We Can Share with Refugees", and the focus was on living peacefully in Osaka alongside refugees who have escaped war and persecution in their own countries.
    The Neo Nanmin Cafe Network organises the Nanmin Cafe event, which takes place on the evening of the third Thursday of each month, in Nakazaki-cho. Participants discussed the content and structure of the World Nanmin Day event at these gatherings.
    Finalising the content took a long time, and because there wasn't time to do much advertising beforehand, the voluntary help of high school and university students who were contacted by RAFIQ and who turned up on the day itself was gratefully received. The event attracted considerable media attention, and many interviews took place.
    A student at Ristumeikan Uji High School (Kyoto prefecture), who helped host the event, wrote the following email detailing their impressions:

    My name is M. A. I attend Ritsumeikan Uji High School, and I recently helped host the World Nanmin Day event. I had attended Nanmin Cafe events before, and heard about RAFIQ's activities, but taking part in World Nanmin Day was an extremely valuable experience. It gave me an insight into who the refugees supported by RAFIQ actually are.
    I distributed flyers on the day, and although it proved difficult at first because only a few people accepted them, towards the end of the day more and more people took a flyer, and I ended up handing out more than a hundred in total. I think it was a good opportunity for ordinary people to learn about refugee issues in Japan.

    I also learned a lot about cuisines from refugees' home countries, and deepened my friendships with them. Furthermore, I interacted with people who are involved with other refugee support organizations, and was stimulated by these discussions.
    I speak for all the members from Ritsumeikan Uji High School when I say that if there are other opportunities like this in the future, we'd love to do all we can to help.
    In around October, with the help of S-san from J-FUN, we're planning on holding a fair in our school cafeteria, allowing people to sample food from refugees' home countries. This will be similar to the fair that was held at Ristumeikan University's Kinugasa campus.

  2. Over 2,000 Applications for Asylum in the First Half of 2014 (According to UNHCR)

    UNHCR have announced the number of asylum applications that were made in the first half of 2014 (January-June). 2,248 applications were made in Japan in the first half of the year, which means that over 4,000 applications can be expected for the year as a whole. The total for 2012 was over 2,000, and the total for 2013 was over 3,200.
    This year, the situation has worsened in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Palestine, and elsewhere, and the global number of refugees has increased.
    We have to think about what can be done to stop the increase in the number of refugees.

     Asylum Trends, First half 2014 (UNHCR)

    Information about the 2nd quarter in Japan (April – June) is on page 30: "TABLE 12 Top-10 nationalities of asylum applicants by country of asylum: Second quarter 2014".

  3. A new online book of Asahi Shinbun articles: "Mukokuseki: A Country of 2nd Generation Refugees. The Battles of Children Living in Japan"

    A new online book entitled "Mukokuseki: A Country of 2nd Generation Refugees. The Battles of Children Living in Japan" was published on the 11th of September.
    Online books are similar to e-books, except that they are not downloaded onto a device, but rather read as an online website. The book can be read for up to a year after purchase.

    "Mukokuseki: A Country of 2nd Generation Refugees. The Battles of Children Living in Japan" was a column published in the Asahi Shinbun between the 20th and 30th of August. It introduces members of student groups who, along with RAFIQ, are affiliated with the World Refugee Day's western Japan action committee.
    This year, it will be 60 years since the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons came into force. Japan, however, has not even ratified this convention, and it seems there is a lack of concern about the fact that there are stateless people in Japan. Living as a refugee can be considered an individual's own decision, but being stateless is not something that these individuals desire. It is also extremely difficult for such individuals to acquire Japanese nationality through their own efforts. As a country, we have to ask ourselves how we intend to take care of these people, who are living within our borders.

    The authors of the online book mentioned above: Kazuki Ito and Taro Tamaki
    Published by: The Asahi Shinbun Company

    Approximately 14,000 refugees and their families have been granted the right to reside in Japan. Around 60% of these are from Vietnam, while the remainder are mostly from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. The children born to people who come to Japan in order to escape war or persecution have few troubles with Japanese language or culture. On the other hand, many are unable to register their births in their parents' country of origin, and are consequently stateless. They are stuck between their "home" countries and Japan. Despite this, these children are starting to find ways of making the most of their roots.
    [Published in the Asahi Shinbun (20th-30th August 2014)]

  4. Introducing Quality Film Festivals in Kansai

    A number of quality film festivals which touch upon refugee-related issues are taking place in Kansai this autumn, and we would like to introduce them here.
    Note from Keiko: I recently watched the Korean film Way Back Home, as well as the Indian film English Vinglish. Both films made a lasting impression on me. I watched them on a weekday, but there were quite a lot of other people in the cinema. I was happy to see that there's an appetite for these kinds of films.

    October 17th – 19th Queer Film Festival
    Location: Toyonaka Danjokyoudosankaku Centre Step (Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture)

    October 25th – 26th Refugee Film Festival
    Location: Kansai Gaukin Daigaku Nishinomiya Seiwa Campus

    November 22nd – 28th Hu-Rights Osaka 20th Anniversary: "Films Aim for Freedom – Seven Days of Encountering Questions".
    Location: Dai-Nana Geijutsu Gekijio (Osaka City)

In September 2014
  • A number of Kurdish asylum seekers went on hunger strike at the East Japan Immigration Centre.

    At the start of September, news arrived that Kurdish asylum seekers being held at the East Japan Immigration Centre in Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture had gone on hunger strike. For more information about what happened afterwards, we spoke to Kimiko Tanaka from an organisation called Ushiku no Kai (set up to consider problems at the Ushiku immigration centre). She has been interviewing asylum seekers being held there:

    The hunger strike took place between the 1st and 8th of September. Some people stopped their hunger strike because of issues such as worsening medical conditions, but spirits remained very high throughout the strike. Throughout this period, the participants encouraged each other not to consume anything except tea or coffee. The immigration authorities threatened the participants by saying that their actions would have a negative impact when it came to them being provisionally released."

    The following is taken from Ushiku no Kai's homepage, where it was published on the 6th of September:

    "Kurdish asylum seekers who hold Turkish nationality have been on hunger strike at the East Japan Immigration Centre since the 1st of September.

    Tanaka-san, from Ushiku no Kai, spoke to some of these Kurdish refugees in late August. She received a letter from them written in Roman script, and addressed to the Centre. She was asked to write it in Japanese on their behalf. This letter clearly explains the reasons why these refugees have gone on hunger strike. As such, we have reproduced it below.

    One of the main reasons is that the Kurdish refugees have been refused provisional release, one after another, since mid-August. This is despite them already being refused entry to Japan at Narita airport, being transferred to the Ushiku centre, and being held there for the long term. They are refugees, and have a number of medical problems. The immigration authorities tried to persuade the hunger strikers to abandon their strike by threatening them, saying it would have a negative impact when it came to them being provisionally released. The hunger strike is still going on, however.

    The letter from the refugees to the Immigration Centre:

    "We are Kurdish asylum seekers who are currently being temporarily held in this Immigration Centre. We thought we would write a letter to the head of this Centre about the problems that we have had here.

    First of all, we should point out that Japan has signed a law which compels it to accept asylum seekers from all over the world. Every other country accepts Kurdish refugees. Why doesn't Japan consider Kurdish people to be refugees?

    For the past 2-3 years, the governments of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria have collectively been massacring the Kurdish people. This is not a new or unusual thing. Kurds have been forced from their homes for a long time now. 31 Kurds are currently being held at the East Japan Immigration Centre. We face many problems in our home country. That is why we are seeking asylum in Japan.

    When you feel ill, you go straight to the hospital, you get seen by a specialist doctor, and you can get the medicine you need. For us, it takes a month or more before we can even see a doctor. We are humans. We are not animals."

    Background Information:
    The following information is taken from The Kurds and Kurdistan, by Kiyoshi Nakagawa (published by Nanposhinsha).

    • Who are the Kurds? (p. 24)
    The ethnic group known as the Kurds has a population of between 25 and 30 million. They currently live in an area that covers a number of countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan and Armenia, and are therefore considered a large "ethnic minority", and the world's largest group of stateless people. The area inhabited by Kurds has been known as Kurdistan since ancient times, but the area was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and remained under Ottoman rule until after the First World War. During this period, Kurdistan's borders were repeatedly redrawn, its parts split and merged into several other countries. In fact, this is still happening now.

    • Turkish Kurdish Refugees (p. 363)
    The Turkish government does not recognise Kurdish culture, and is pursuing policies of cultural assimilation. As a result, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been fighting against Turkish security forces since 1994, in the same of self-determination for Kurds.

    The Turkish army has engaged in a practice of wiping out entire villages which support PKK guerrillas. Over 3000 villages were destroyed and depopulated between 1992 and 1995. Over 3 million Kurds have been forced to leave their place of birth.

    Individuals who are suspected of participation in political activities or guerrilla activities are persecuted, as are those who avoid military service. The persecution usually escalates to involve the individual's family as well. (This is why Kurdish people flee to big cities, and are seeking asylum in the EU as well as in other countries.)

    (End of Quoted Material)

    Turkey, in particular, is friendly with Japan, with whom it has close economic ties. Asylum seekers from such "friendly" countries who come to Japan seeking protection are never officially recognised as refugees by the Japanese government (though they are sometimes given special permission to remain in Japan.) They spend long periods on provisional release, and sometimes end up being taken back into detention.
    Countries in Europe and North America are accepting many Kurdish people as refugees.
    Recently, it is not only Kurdish refugees who have faced this problem in Japan. Syrian refugees are not being recognised as such either. It is easy to see that Japan would rather protect its economic interests than it would the people of the Middle East.

    We cannot allow Japan to refuse to recognise as refugees those who ask us for help, and to detain them in immigration centres while preparing to deport them, or to simply release them provisionally for an indefinite period. These asylum seekers went on hunger strike in order to make themselves heard by the outside world. We cannot ignore them. They need to be provisionally released immediately, and the rules for recognising asylum seekers needs to be revised urgently, in line with immigration policy and UNHCR guidelines.

In August 2014
  1. The concluding observation of the 6th state report examined by the Human Rights Committee

    We would like to inform that the Human Rights Committee issued the concluding observation of the 6th Japanese state report examined on 24th July. From the side of NGOs in Japan, Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Solidary Network with Migrants Japan, Amnesty have submitted their reports.
    The comments about the issues of refugees from the committee are described in "Expulsion and detention of asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants".

    - Expulsion and detention of asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants
    19. The Committee expresses concern about reported cases of ill-treatment during deportations, which resulted in the death of a person in 2010. The Committee is also concerned that, despite the amendment to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, the principle of non-refoulement is not implemented effectively in practice. The Committee remains further concerned at the lack of an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions on asylum as well as at the prolonged periods of administrative detention without adequate giving of reasons and without independent review of the detention decision (arts. 2, 7, 9 and 13).

    - The State party should:
    (a) Take all appropriate measures to guarantee that immigrants are not subject to ill-treatment during their deportation;
    (b) Ensure that all persons applying for international protection are given access to fair procedures for determination and for protection against refoulement, and have access to an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions;
    (c) Take measures to ensure that detention is resorted to for the shortest appropriate period and only if the existing alternatives to administrative detention have been duly considered and that immigrants are able to bring proceedings before a court that will decide on the lawfulness of their detention.
    (CCPR-Center. 2014. )
    The cases of ill-treatment during deportations, which resulted in the death of a person in 2010 is referred to the case of Mr. Suraj from Ghana. Unfortunately, there is no description about the case of the deceased detainee at the immigration center in the publication.

    "the principle of non-refoulement" can be defined that prohibits states from returning refugees in any manner whatsoever to countries or territories in which their lives or freedom may be threated. In Japan, if asylum seekers are declined their refugee application, given a disqualification, and accordingly put in detained, they can be forcibly returned to their country in the future. Furthermore, Appealing becomes more difficult for those without supporters, when they would like to prepare appealing and documents related to their trial.

    This observation about the immigration and refugee system has been repeated for a long time. In other words, we can be argued that the Japanese government has not put enough efforts to change the current system, and it eventually represents the government's unwillingness to protect refugees and support migrants.

    The observation has also mentioned a number of other humanitarian topics such as gender issue, hate speech, sex slaves under the wartime, capital punishment, the Secret Information Protection Act, and the hazards of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant and so on.
    Please kindly have a look the below original observation.

  2. About the supports by Food bank OSAKA

    Regarding to the RAFIQ livelihood support for asylum seekers, an NPO "Food Bank Osaka" has given a dramatically change in a positive way.

    We asked some questions to Mr. Takahashi in charge of RAFIQ livelihood support activities.

    Q1: What is the main change after RAFIQ started to collaborate with "Food bank OSAKA"?
    (RAFIQ used to have a collaboration with only "Second harvest" as one of the livelihood support, but currently we started working with "Second harvest" and " Foodbank OSAKA".)

    A: The main change is that RAFIQ and "Food bank OSAKA" has a "contract". Besides, RAFIQ does not have a contract with "Second harvest", while refugees are using "Second harvest" individually.

    Q2: Please kindly explain the details of supports from "Food Bank OSAKA".

    A: "Food bank OSAKA" has been established very recently, and they are trying to increase the number of food providers so far. Once we are informed from the providers that they are ready foods, we make a request sheet written with item names and quantity, send the sheet to them, and then will be able to receive the foods.
    For example, we were delivered 19th July, cookie, fruit jerry, tomato can, salt, and CalorieMate. From July, the "Costco" has kindly started to support us, and we receive fresh items such as banana, bread, cut vegetables, avocado, mango, and pineapple once a week.

    Q3. How are the refuges reacted ?

    A: They seem very glad. Particularly, asylum seekers who are not allowed to work are able to save their lives. At the same time, refugee supporters are also very pleased the warm supports from Foodbank Osaka. This is because refugee supporters are sometimes hard to keep supporting asylum seekers only with our virtuous mind, and it is concerned that the heavy burden can hinder the sustainable livelihood supports.

In July 2014

  1. The assembly of "World Refugee Day 2014 in Kansai" was held on June 15th, 2014

    First off, Ms. Tanaka from our committee opened the assembly by explaining its purposes and the response Japanese Ministry of Justice is urged to take given the increasing number of asylum seekers in Japan (with numbers such as more than 2,500 asylum seekers in 2012 and only 6 approved the status in 2013).
    Between June 3rd and 5th, politicians such as Mr. Namba, Mr. Fujimatsu, Ms. Itokazu and Mr. Mataichi addressed the refugee issues with a focus on the "reform of the preparation act for the administrative appeal act" at the congress, shedding light to the issues surrounding asylum seekers.

    Mr. Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer, member of “experts of refugee issues” at the Japanese Ministry of Justice and advocate of refugee issues, gave a lecture named “A Reality and Issues of Refugee Status: 32 Years After Its Enactment in 1982,” explaining why Japan has a surprisingly low refugee status recognition rate with slides.

    Ms. Akiko Ogawa from Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) discussed world's affairs surrounding refugees and asylum seekers after speeches by three asylum seekers in Japan.

  2. "A Briefing Session for Inspection at the Detention Centres in the U.K." on June 17th, 2014

    Written by Takegaki

    Date: Tuesday June 17th, 2014 18:30~20:00
    Venue: Bengoshi Kaikan (Tokyo) 3rd Floor
    Organizer: Tokyo Bar Association Committee on Protection of Foreigners' Human Rights
    Attendee: About 20 people

    Briefing Session: MC/ Mr. Kouichi Kodama
    1. About the Detention Centre ; Ms. Chie Komai
    2. About the Inspection Committee ; Ms. Kumiko Niitsu
    3. About Bail Trials ; Mr. Sosuke Seki
    4. About Living Facilities after the Bail ; Mr. Mitsuru Namba

    General feedback for the session: Like the same briefing session two years ago, I am overwhelmed by the huge difference between the UK and Japan (in terms of attitude towards asylum seekers or foreigners, both soft’s and hard’s of accepting facilities, the weight of the reporting committee, the criteria of bail trials and so on). However, the average 28-day detention period may be problematic. Also, the living facilities, employment and pension after the bail are insufficient, making it hard for me to understand the gap from the well-established detention centre.
    Given this briefing, a question was asked at the diet and a relatively good answer was given (the Immigration Bureau commented: “there are issues that Japan too needs to address”); this is a great progress.

    1. About the detention centre (Reporter Ms. Chie Komai)

      Two detention centres (one for men and the other for families) were inspected
      1. Other than the ministry of law officials, the centres were entirely managed by a private corporation (G4S).
      2. Although there are various people detained (other than asylum seekers) at the centres, their average detained period is 28 days, which is short. More than 90% leave the centre within 6 months. However, like Japan, the maximum detained period is unlimited.
      3. Rules for visits: Registration is open for 24h a day, 365 days. Visits are allowed between 14:00~21:00, 365 days. Rooms are open from 8:00~21:00.
      4. Facilities: Principally two people per a room. There are a shared kitchen, a gym, English classes, an art room, a library, a music room, and a PC room. Internet and cellphones are available to use. Medicines are provided from 14:00~16:00 all year everyday, where you can see a doctor and receive a diagnosis.
      5. Relationship between detainees and the workers: They play Billiards, ping-pong, BBQ and cultural events together.
      The words of the president of the detention centres weighs:
      "We can face each other with respect by creating relationships. There used to be anti-deportation activisms when detainees were deported, but we discuss and come to a solution these days. Every problem could be settled down based on understanding and respect."

    2. About the inspection committee (Reporter Ms. Kumiko Niitsu)

      Unique characteristics: Regular and independent audit, visits without advanced notice, care and contribution for human rights protection, funds and staffs of their own. The results for the audit are published, and 97% of recommendations are accepted, while 65% gets actualized.

    3. About bail trials (Reporter Ms. Sosuke Seki)

      Bail trials are performed by the immigration and refugee tribunal. The judge is chosen from people with experience of being a lawyer. The home office used to be in charge of choosing the judge like the immigration office before, but today the ministry of justice chooses, increasing the independency.
      Trials are public, finishing within 3~6 days after the application, with the publicized reasons for continued detention. The criteria for standards for the bail are publicized on the Internet. The subject of the trial can join the trial through the Internet. Additionally, the bail rate is not researched lest the rate should pressure the judge (according to an NGO, the rate is around 30%?).

    4. About Living Facilities after the Bail (Reporter Mr. Mitsuru Namba)

      Livelihood support is done in accordance with the immigration and refugee law (article 4: supports after bail; article 95: support for applicants). Supports are given to asylum seekers in the process of receiving the refugee status. Shared house is provided by the border agency (a house we inspected can hold 5 families in 2LDK). Living expenses will be covered: 56 pounds (about 6,000 yen) for a single adult a week. Paid by electronic money (limited shops available for use).
      Working is prohibited entirely-seems like there are many people working illegally. If caught, you will get detained; however, we heard that it was hard to get caught.

  3. Submission of "A Request for Early Detection of TB Patients and Prevention Programs"

    We submitted “A Request for Early Detection of TB Patients and Prevention Programs” to the president of Nishi Nihon Immigration Center on July 8th, 2014.

    2014/5/25 ; An Indian person detained at the Nishi Nihon Immigration Center broke his shoulder and went to a hospital outside in the neighborhood.
    5/26~27 ; Went to Takatsuki Hospital from the immigration center to see a specialist.
    5/28 ; Had a surgery at Takatsuki Hospital. Found out that he had a TB.
    5/29~ (6/10) ; Pamphlets about TB in English and in Japanese were distributed to all detainees. Everyone (except for the workers) went through the X-lay examination. All clear. The detainees seemed not to have worried with the early response by the center.
    6/10 ; Went to hear what had happened when visiting the Nishi Nihon Immigration Center. Also asked the detainees. We couldn't see the Indian detainee for he is in the hospital.

    Nishi Nihon Immigration Center answered our questions well regarding current response that they are following the public health center’s advises on June 10th.
    When we asked about the follow-up care for bailed people, they said "we don't know" "we will follow the public health centers," so we asked the Ibaraki public health center only to hear "we cannot respond to individual cases."

    The same answer was given when we asked if the manual sees bailed people as the subjects for care. Public health center seemed to be more bureaucratic than the immigration center.
    However, when we asked the bailed people, they said they hadn't received anything neither from the immigration center nor the public health center.

    We think that the immigration center's response was "quick," however, we submitted a request with the following three items:
    1. Perform health examination when entering the center, including an X-ray examination
    2. Perform follow-up care for bailed individuals
    3. Adopt preventative measures to the international standard

    Given the fatal accident at the Higashi Nihon Immigration Center, the item 1 is necessary. We heard that the Higashi Nihon Immigration Center performs an X-ray examination when people are detained the center. There are few regional immigration centers with an X-ray facility.

In April, 2014

  1. In 2013, among over 3,200 refugee status applications, only 6 approved refugee statuses!

    On March 20, the Ministry of Justice released the report of “About the Number of Refugee Status Application in 2013 etc.” at last. By this, the number of refugee applications was 3,260, which is increased by about 700 than in last year. But Japan granted only 6 people as “refugees” (3 were appoved on the first instance, 3 approved on appeal), which is one-third as many as in last year. The 0.1% recognition rate means a lot of unrecognized people emerge in our society.

    RAFIQ released the opinion about the above on March 22. For example, none of the Syrian refugees in Japan was granted their status, while all of them are permitted to live as refugees in Sweden. And we appeal that our government should implement what theDiets resolved in 2011; Japan will take a leading role in Asia and the world to pursue the eternal solution of refugee problem and reinforce protection of their rights,.
    The Ministry of Justice set up the adhoc committee on refugee recognition system in last autumn. The purpose is how to establish quick process of refugee recognition as there are increasing the refugee applicants. But the most important thing is that it has to revise the current law according to the standard of UNHCR handbook on refugee recognition, and implement it for refugees.

    On March 31, the government of Japan decided to provide the second biggest financial assistence for UNHCR in the world, following the USA. Japan offered $252,939,102 in 2013, and $125,000,000 during the first quarter in 2014. It does not make sense that while Japan is such a big contributing country, it is extremely indifference to the refugees inside.

    In World Refugee Day Assembly on June 15 we Mr Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer as a keynote speaker, whose topic is the movement toward New Refugee Recognition Law.

  2. The case of a Ghanaian male's death on deportation: His family won a court order of reparation by the state, however the Japanese government appealed to a higher court.

    Tokyo district court gave a decision on March 19,2014 on the case that Abubakar Awudu Suraj, a Ghanaian male died at the time of his deportation in March, 2010, describing that the Immigration Bureau should make reparation for his family. Despite written requests from several supporting groups not to appeal to a higher court, the Japanese government did so on March 31. In March last year, RAFIQ asked Mr. Kodama,a lawyer to make a speech about the process up to his death.
    After the insident, no deportation has been implemented. However, a lot of Pilipino and Thaiwere deported in summer and winter last year, using chartered planes. It is said that although immigration staffs did not hold Pilipino and Thai down by force, the staffs treated them inhumanely.
    The case of this incident had dropped as a criminal case. But RAFIQ will keep monitoring the immigration in order to prevent it from implementing forcible and inhumane deportation.

  3. There successive deaths in Higashi Nihon Immigration Center.

    On March 29 and 30, an Iranian and a Cameroonian detained in Higashi Nihon Immigration Center(placed in Ushiku city, Ibaraki prefecture) died. The immigration center says that the Iranian was choked with foods to death and the Cameroonian’s death was not due to an accident.

    But it is obvious based on the previous information supporting groups gathered from the two of them and the other detainees at the visits in the center that the Immigration center did not take them to hospital outside although they had been in bad health.

    There are also many problems on medical service in Nishi Nihon Immigration Center that we have kept to visit to.
    • Only weekdays comes doctor.
    • Doctor mistakes medicine often.
    • When inmates need to go hospital outside, they have to wait a long time and they are put handcuffs outside.
    • It tends that the longer inmates stay in the center their health get worse, but doctor prescribes a large amount of medicineslike tranquilizer and sleeping pills for the inmates having strong stesses due to the long detention.

    In April 2005, a Vietnamese inmate fell down in toilet and was conveyed to a hospital in a hurry, but he died from subarachnoid hemorrhage. He had had less salty meals because of his high blood pressure. The immigration must take full responsibility for the detainees with disease to keep their health and life. If it can't, they must be released.

    Please send your objection to Higashi Nihon Immigration center.

In March, 2014
  1. Preparation start towards World Refugee Day Assembly of 2014:

     June 20 is World Refugee Day. RAFIQ has been taking a role of the secretariat for the Assembly since 2006. We also have held the Assembly with the main theme of “Necessity of New Refugee Recognition System” since 2009. We have to note that Ad Hoc Committee about Refugee Recognition System as a Justice Minister’s advisory body was established by Ministry of Justice in October last year.

    Then, this year’s Assembly must be very important in order to achieve the better revision of the act and its implementation.

    Rough plan of the Assembly is as follows:
     Time & Date: 12:30 to 4:30 pm on June 15(Sun)
     Place: Osaka Municipal Housing Information Center
       (Osaka Shiritsu Sumai Jyohou Center) Tel 06-6242-1160
     Admission is 1,000yen (500yen for students, none for refugees)

      1. Key note speech by Mr. Shogo Watanabe, Lawyer
      2. Voices from refugees
      3. Cases in overseas
      4. Appeals from NGOs
      5. 60 years anniversary for the convention of the rights for the stateless people

  2. Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) published the opinion paper of “Refugee Recognition System and the Status of Applicants for Refugee Recognition” :

    JFBA released the above paper on February 21, and submitted it to the Minister of Justice on February 28.
    The main reason why this opinion paper was issued is that Ad Hoc Committee regarding Refugee Recognition System, which was established in October last year(2013), started its discussions this year.

    In the opinion paper, there are 33 proposals including refugee recognition in a newly established independent agency, revised criteria for credibility assessment, disclosure of the reasons in case of refusal against refugee status application, lawyer’s presence to applicants in the inspection, (video) recording in the inspection, and so on.

    We, RAFIQ, also welcome the opinion paper, because it was published based on international law to protect refugees and refugee applicants in this adequate timing.

  3. Forum for Refugees Japan (FRJ) published its proposals of “Further Development to Accept Refugees in Japan based on the Resettlement Program”.

    As introduced in RAFIQ’s February Magazine, Japanese government decided that the resettlement program is continued after next year, while its pilot case of the program would be finished in this fiscal year.

    Following with this decision by Japanese government, FRJ published its proposals on February 18. The proposals state that the integrated supports should be made in both stages of preparations before the resettled people come to Japan and actual livelihood after training in Japan. It should be reconsidered that in the pilot cases different agencies took responsibilities in each stage.

    Moreover, this publication proposes that all issues surrounding refugee women and children are more discussed, and the right of work for refugees in Japan should be disputed in order to improve and solve their current vulnerable situation under lack of enough supports.

  4. US Department of State issued 2013 Japan Human Rights Report :

    US Department of State issued Human Rights Reports in 2013 by country. This report points out that due process is not secured for pretrial detainees and others, while major Japanese newspapers have highlighted only concerns about hate speeches among foreigners.

    All Japanese people and government must recognize that international concern have gradually risen on Japanese current policies related to detaining asylum seekers regardless domestic interests. This is because that the Japanese policies have obviously violated the principle of Non-refoulement described in Refugee Convention.
    The report also mentions the details about refugees in Japan in the end.

    Executive summary of the report is as follows:

    Japan has a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. National lower-house elections in December 2012 resulted in the swearing-in of Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, as prime minister. Upper house elections on July 21 gave the ruling coalition a majority in that chamber. The elections were considered free and fair. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Security forces did not commit human rights abuses.

    The leading human rights problems included lack of due process for pretrial detainees, prison and detention center conditions, and the exploitation of children including the non-criminalization of child pornography.

    Other persistent human rights concerns included societal discrimination against ethnic minority group members, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and persons with disabilities; detention of asylum seekers; domestic violence and sexual harassment against women; and trafficking in persons, including the exploitation of foreign trainee workers.
    The government enforced laws prohibiting human rights abuses and prosecuted officials who committed them.

    Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 Japan


in February, 2014

  1. Ad Hoc Committee about Refugee Recognition System is ongoing:

    This Ad Hoc Committee as Justice Minister's advisory body was established last year by Ministry of Justice in order to achieve proper and quick decisions of recognition for refugee status application.
    The members of the Committee are told to be 9 persons from private sectors and some observers from UNHCR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    It is told that in the first Committee held in November, 2013 several issues were discussed; Implementation of the current recognition system, the details of both recognized applicants and not recognized ones, and the obstacles of recognition criteria.
    Although we welcome the establishment of the Committee within the government, we deeply recognize that the main problem to be solved in the Japanese system of the refugee status recognition is not "quicker decision" but "extremely low rate of refugee status".
    In the year of 2012, among 2,198 applicants treated under the recognition procedure the ones who got refugee statuses were only five, of which three won in the trials, one got it in the reapplication, and only one got it in the first application.
    We must introduce the international criteria of refugee recognition, and check and monitor the behaviors of the Immigration Bureau in order to pursue the better goal for refuges that the current refugee law and regulations should be revised.

  2. Refugee Resettlement as a pilot case will finish in the end of next March, and be continued thereafter.:

    Japan became the first refugee resettlement country in Asia in 2010 in the sense that Japan received some Burma refugees living in refugee camps in Thailand. But in 2012 as the third year of pilot case, there were no refugees who wanted to resettle in Japan. This means there are many problems to be solved
    But the government decided to continue the resettlement policy as Cabinet decision in January 14, 2014.
    FRJ (Forum for Refugee Japan) is now making proposals to the government decision. In collaboration with FRJ, RAFIQ will also try to solve the problems which were exposed in the pilot case.
    We believe that the supports for the resettled people will lead to the ones for refugee status applicants.

  3. Proposals to Inspection Committee:

    Immigration Inspection Committee members inspected the Nishi-Nihon Immigration Center on January 29, 2014.
    Immigration Inspection Committee was established in July 2010. The 20 members were appointed by Ministry of Justice, whose names were not made public. This Committee is the only one monitoring organization from the outside.
    When we visited Nishi-Nihon Immigration Center on February 4, we obtained the 24 proposals made by a detainee who submitted them to the Committee.
    The proposals were placed in RAFIQ's home page written in Japanese.

RAFIQ JAPAN (The Network aiming at the Coexistence with the Refugees in Japan)
Nanmin-House 4-9-13 HigashiMikuni Yodogawa-ku Osaka-shi, 532-0002
TEL:06-6335-4440 / mailto:

Copyright of all contents (except for the part) will belong to their relationship and their RAFIQ.