|2017 April March February January
In April 2017 No.144
- Successful completion of the special exhibition of refugees, November 2016-March
Thank you very much for your interest and support!
The special exhibition of refugees at Osaka Human Rights Museum (Liberty
Osaka) finished successfully on 18 March. The exhibition was very popular.
Though the museum opens for only four days a week, nearly 7,000 people
visited Osaka Human Rights Museum during the exhibition. They included
students and teachers on a school trip, international students and visitors
who came a long distance for this exhibition. When RAFIQ staff and volunteers
were available at the museum, many visitors listened actively to our explanation.
Over 300 messages to refugees were given to us to demonstrate on a message
tree. At the beginning, the exhibition was rather simple with information
panels on refugee issues in Japan. However, it expanded and improved with
contributions of support organizations such as Japan Association for Refugees
(JAR), UNHCR, Friends of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan),
Amnesty International, Burmese Relief Centre, Sadaqa, and Refugee Assistance
During the exhibition period, we organized three events. They are:
- 19 November 2016: Opening event - Lecture by Ms Keiko Tanaka, RAFIQ
45 people attended
- 14 January 2017: Talk by a refugee from Afghanistan
Approximately 70 people attended
- 11 March 2017: Lecture by Ms Naoko Obi
Approximately 90 people attended
- World Refugee Day 2017 West Japan Assembly
Important information for your diary:
- Theme： REFUGEEES WELCOME! What can we do in Japan? Refugee crisis shaking the
- Date： Sunday, 2 July 2017
- Time: 11:00-16:30
- Venue: Osaka Municipal Housing Information Center
The United Nations' World Refugee Day is observed on 20 June each year.
RAFIQ has been organized an assembly focusing on refugee issues in Japan.
Now we are planning the 12th assembly. A tentative program is:
Part 1: What can we do in Japan? Refugee crises shaking the world (11:00-13:00)
- Lecture 1: "Because we are living on the same planet"
Ms. Yukari Ando, specially appointed assistant professor, Osaka University
- Lecture 2: "Private sponsorship for Syrian refugees in Japan",
JAR (Japan Association for Refugees)
- Questions and discussions
Part 2: Refugees Welcome! (14:00-16:30)
- Voices from refugees in Japan
- Lecture 3: "Accepting refugees in a country with a population of 5.4
million, Finland" Ms Yuko Kamenani
- Lecture 4: "Supporting refugees at Nanmin House in Osaka" Ms
Keiko Tanaka, RAFIQ
- Lecture 5: "Refugee homestays in Kanto" Ms Sayaka Watanabe, WELGEE
- Reports from refugee supporting organizations
- Just 28 refugees accepted in Japan in 2016
Ministry of Justice announced the definite number of accepted refugees
in Japan in 2016 on 24 March 2017. They started announcing a provisional
numbers first, and then announcing a definite numbers from 2016.
Some related articles are available in English
Reiji Yoshida, "Record 10,901 refugee applicants face abysmal odds
of acceptance in Japan", The Japan Times, 10 February 2017.
"Japan accepts just 28 refugees in 2016, government document says", The Asahi Shimbun, 9 February 2017.
"Justice Ministry to delegate refugee screening to regional immigration
bureaus", The Mainich, 1 February 2017.
- Vietnamese died of stroke at Japanese immigration detention center
The Vietnamese man, born in 1969, arrived in Japan in 1998 to seek asylum.
He was one of approximately 11,000 refugees Japan took in during the aftermath
of the Vietnam War.
This case demonstrates that medical treatment in immigration detention
centers in Japan has not been improved at all. RAFIQ members know such
situation from the experience of meeting with refugee applicants at Osaka
Regional Immigration Bureau, and have strong concerns about various problems
that beset medical care at immigration detention centers
Ami Miyazaki and Thomas Wilson, "Vietnamese died of stroke at Japanese
detention center: official", Reuters, 3 April 2017.
- From Nanmin House: New hot water system has been installed!
Thanks to those who responded quickly to our urgent call for donation,
a new hot water system and a shower have been stalled at Nanmin House for
refugees living in a shelter there.
Donation: 243,000 yen
Quotation: 240,000 yen (approx. 30,000 yen were discounted from this amount)
The balance will be used to install a secondhand air conditioner donated
by a RAFIQ member.
In March 2017 No.143
- .Syrian refugees come to Japan as international students
The Japanese government has started programs accepting Syrian refugees
as international students, the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)
program and the Education Ministry's Japanese Government Scholarship program
According to NHK news on 17 February, a selection was conducted in Jordan.
The quota was 20 and 121 Syrians applied. Applicants who passed the selection
will take an interview with a university of their choice. Successful applicants
will start studying at a Japanese university from September 2017.
Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) will start Private Sponsorship for
Syrian refugees in cooperation with Japanese language schools.
JICA, Japanese Initiative for the future of Syrian refugees (JISR)
Syrian refugees invited to Japan set to total 300 through 2021, The Asahi Shimbun, 3 February 2017
JICA to help Syrian refugee students find work, settle in Japan, The Japan Times, 10 January 2017
- 18 February: National meeting of people involved in supporting refugees
This is a meeting organized by FRJ (Forum for Refugees Japan) and JAR (Japan
Association for Refugees) in Tokyo biannually for the last three years.
36 people including four RAFIQ members, supporters and layers from Kanto,
Nagoya and Kyushu, and staffs from corporate enterprises attended the meeting.
We learned a lot about successful lawsuits at the Nagoya High Court in
2016, recent trend an issues regarding refugee protection in Japan and
overseas, and participated in discussions.
- 11 March: Lecture by Ms. Naoko Obi, UNHCR's deputy representative in Japan
The special exhibition of refugees at Osaka Human Rights Museum (Liberty
Osaka) finished successfully on 18 March. The exhibition was very popular
and over 6,500 people visited Osaka Human Rights Museum during the exhibition.
As the last event in relation to the exhibition, Ms. Obi gave a lecture
under the title, "Refugee issues at this time: What Japan and Japanese
people can do". She introduced various issues including refugees living
in urban areas in the world, child labor, the lack of access to education
and isolation, and some positive phenomena in Japan such as increasing
interest in refugee issues from universities and business. She also pointed
out the lack of a comprehensive refugee protection law in Japan and emphasized
the importance of snow-balling effect in supporting refugees. We hope people
who came to the lecture talked about what they had learned on the day to
their family and friends.
After the lecture Ms Tanaka, a joint representative of RAFIQ, gave a short
talk about a current move of the system to grant asylum in Japan for the
worse. She concluded the event with introducing RAFIQ activities and a
coming event on the World Refugee Day, 2 July.
- 43 illegal immigrants, including 32 Thais, 10 Vietnamese, and 1 Afghans,
were put on a state-chartered plane and deported
Government uses charter plane to forcibly repatriate 43 foreign nationals, The Japan Times, 21 February 2017
- Nanmin-House website is open now!
Information about its open days and references on refugees and immigration
is available from the website (in Japanese).
In February 2017 No.142
- Donations are welcome to improve the condition of temporary residence for
refugees in Nanmin House
As a new hot-water-system and an air conditioner are required, we welcome
your donations to:
Our target is 300,000 yen.
- Name of the bank: Japan Post Bank
- Branch number: 438
- Account number: 6677668
- Account name: RAFIQ
- Special exhibition of refugees at Osaka Human Rights Museum (Liberty Osaka)
will finish soon
- Opening Hours: Wednesday - Friday: 10:00-16:00 and Saturday 13:00-17:00
- Organizers: RAFIQ, Osaka Human Rights Museum
Some new additions to the exhibition include photos taken in Afghanistan
by a photographer of "DAYS JAPAN", Mr Ryuichi Hirokawa, and a
3D art provided by Amnesty International Japan showing war damage in Syria.
Coming event in relation to the exhibition
Lecture by Ms. Naoko Obi, UNHCR's deputy representative in Japan
Title: "Refugee issues at this time: What Japan and Japanese people
can do" (in Japanese)
Time and Date: 14:00-16:30, Saturday 11 March
Venue: Liberty Hall, Osaka Human Rights Museum
Report of the past event on 14 January
"Listen to what a refugee from Afghanistan telling us"
A talk by Mr. R, a refugee from Afghanistan, was organized by the museum,
Lara Association, and RAFIQ. Approximately 80 people joined and the venue
- A record 10,901 people sought asylum in Japan in 2016, but only 28 were
The Justice Ministry announced the most recent data on 10 February. Details
are available through media such as:
A record 10,901 sought asylum in 2016, but only 28 pass screening：The Asahi
Record 10,901 refugee applicants face abysmal odds of acceptance in Japan
| The Japan Times
Japan took in just 28 refugees in 2016, despite record applications | Reuters
We are concerned about a current trend that the Justice Ministry changes
the system to grant asylum for the worse using ‘fake refugees' as an excuse.
- World leaders opposed Trump executive order to ban on travelers from seven
countries, but Japan's Prime Minister Abe had no say on the issue
- The system to grant asylum in Japan: Transferring of responsibility/authority
from the Justice Ministry to Regional Immigration Bureaus?
In response to a call for public comments (closed on 2 March), RAFIQ submitted
a comment expressing serious concerns of possible negative impacts from
the proposed change.
RAFIQ announced its public comment on 13 February on the draft of the revision
of the Ordinance for Enforcement of the Immigration Control and Refugee
Recognition Act (to become effective in June 2017).
- The Ministry of Justice justified this proposed revision because of the
increase of unprocessed cases and the prolongation of the processing period
for conducting refugee status determination. Of course, it is necessary
to solve these problems. However, it is most important "to ensure
the appropriateness of refugee status determination procedure in order
not to give negative impact on quick and secure protection of real refugees".
It is an absolute requirement that should never be violated.
Therefore, by giving priority to "efficient and streamlined procedure
in determining refugee status, and a proper response to applications abusing
and misusing the system", the absolute requirement should never be
ignored. We consider it important how the government secures the absolute
requirement, and we ask the Ministry of Justice to explain the following
- Proposed changes are: 1) to delegate decision-making authority regarding
refugee status recognition from the Minister of Justice to Regional Immigration
Bureau Directors, and 2) to develop a new format for reapplication for
- 2.1 .We want the government to demonstrate how they ensure consistency
between the proposed changes and fundamental idea of refugee protection,
which should be an absolute requirement.
2.2. Regional Immigration Bureau Directors have considerable authority
regarding management of each Regional Immigration Bureau and their detention
center, treatment of detainees, and detention policy. If decision-making
authority regarding refugee status is delegated to Regional Immigration
Bureau Directors on top of these considerable authorities, we are deeply
concerned about possible inconsistency in criteria among Regional Immigration
Bureaus, and unnecessary further tightening of refugee status recognition.
We want the government to demonstrate what kind of measures they take to
avoid possible negative consequences.
2.3 .Regarding a new format for reapplication for refugee status, the government
justifies the change to make a quick distinction between applicants who
abuse the system and repeatedly apply for refugee status and other applicants
The suggested new format asks applicants in Item 3 "do you claim any
new reason why you feel fear of persecution?" Based on the answer
to the question, an applicant proceeds to different further questions.
In short, we are concerned that if an applicant answers "no, I do
not have any new reason", their application would be considered as
an abuse of the system and would be denied quickly (prematurely) regardless
of their fear of persecution.
It is true that some applicants have new reasons and submit new evidences
when they reapply. However, others may not have new reasons/evidences,
because original conditions of persecution still continue and nothing is
new. Such case should never be considered as abuse of the system. We want
the government to demonstrate how they avoid such mistreatment.
In January 2017 No.141
- New Year's greetings
Some positive thoughts and information on the new appointment of António
Guterres as the UN Secretary-General. He had been the UN high commissioner
for refugees until last year.
Big 10 news in 2016 selected by RAFIQ
- RAFIQ's new office (Nanmin House) opened on 1 October in Osaka
- The number of RAFIQ members reached almost 100
- Increasing number of participants in our introductory seminars on refugees,
and increasing number of inquiries from the media and the public to RAFIQ
about refugee issues
- The number of refugee applicants in Japan in 2015was 7,586, which was up
50% from the previous year, but only 27 of them were recognized as refugees
(MOJ, March 2016). Moreover, 5,011 applicants in the first half of 2016,
and only four were recognized as refugees, which was a sharp decrease from
the previous year.
- The number of asylum seekers in the world reached 65.3 million (As of 31
December 2015, 58 million increase from the previous year) (UNHCR, June
- The civil war in Syria led to endless confusion. Continuous increase in
the number of asylum seekers going to Europe
- United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants was held in the UN HQ on
19 September193 member states signed up the New York Declaration.
- RAFIQ has supported increasing number of asylum seekers from the Middle-East
and Africa since around June.
- More constriction from the Immigration Bureau to asylum seekers, for example,
tightening control over illegal work and visa revocation at the time of
reapplication for refugee status.
- The exhibition on refugees started in Liberty Osaka (till 18 March 2017)
Your continuous support to RAFIQ in 2017 will be most appreciated.
Joint representatives, RAFIQ
Keiko TANAKA and Yoshie HIROKAWA
- Event: Oboe concert and a seminar on refugees on 12 February 2017
A RAFIQ volunteer high school student, who had lessons in Germany, will
play the oboe at this concert. RAFIQ volunteers from three high schools
planned and prepared this charity concert for refugees. All proceeds will
come to RAFIQ to be used for supporting refugees in Kansai region.
We thank Suita Catholic Church for their cooperation. Everyone is welcome!
Date and time: 15:00-17:00 (Doors open at 14:30) on Sunday 12 February,
Venue: Suita Catholic Church access
Admission: 800 yen
- Visit to the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau on 31 October 2016
Amnesty International Japan and Kokunai-Jinken Network organized a tour
to the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau on 31 October 2016. In total sixteen
people including three RAFIQ members participated in the tour. Visitors
could see a visiting room, a medical treatment room, a residential area,
and a roof top exercise area.
A detailed report by RAFIQ members is available in the original RAFIQ magazine
- Events in December 2016 and January 2017
10 December: 2016 World Refugee Day
Location: Cafe Shuka and the neighborhood in Nakazaki-cho, Osaka
Organizers: Neo Nanmin-Cafe Network
RAFIQ supported this event and gave a short lecture on refugee issues.
Other activities included music, dance, and a DVD (produced by the UNHCR)
screening. We enjoyed tasting of food and sweets of countries where refugees
were from, including Iran, Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kurd, Egypt, and
Vietnam. The last program was presentations by a Japanese woman who supports
refugees in Finland; an Egyptian from WEL2KOBE, an organization which support
minorities and refugees in Kobe; an owner of Cafe Shuka, who is involved
in advancing togetherness in community. RAFIQ also gave a presentation
on our plan of future activities based in Nanmin House.
18 December: the end-of-year Party
In total, approximately 30 RAFIQ members, supporters, and four refugees
gathered at Nanmin House to celebrate the successful 2016.
19 December: a seminar on how refugees are supported in Finland
The speaker, Ms Yuko Kametani, has been involved in supporting refugee
supporters in Finland. A detailed report is available in the original RAFIQ
magazine in Japanese.
Donations sent to support victims of the recent earthquake in Ache, Indonesia
RAFIQ asked for donations to support people in fishing villages in Ache.
They had helped Rohingya refugees, and suffered serious damage from the
earthquake on 7 December.
We sent 80,000 yen, 50,726 yen from donations and 29,724 yen from the RAFIQ
budget, to Ms Lilianne Fan, the Geutanyoe Foundation. We asked her to use
the money to support Rohingya refugees in Ache.
To those of you, who contributed the donation, thank you very much!
26 December – 9 January:LUSH and RAFIQ Refugee supporting campaign
LUSH, a British cosmetic company, organizes a refugee supporting campaign.
As FRJ (Forum for Refugees Japan) became a partner, RAFIQ participated
in the campaign. It started on 26 December at the LUSH store in Mio, Tennoji,
Osaka. RAFIQ had our own desk in the store on 7-8 January and hosted a
Charity Party. It means that LUSH donated 100% of Charity Pot's purchase
price of these two days to RAFIQ. As the majority of the customers were
unaware of refugee issues in Japan, it was a great opportunity to promote
awareness and understanding about refugee issues and RAFIQ activities.
14 January: "Listen to what a refugee from Afghanistan telling us"
In relation to the Special exhibition of refugees at Osaka Human Rights
Museum, a talk by a refugee from Afghanistan, was organized by the museum,
Lala Association, and RAFIQ. A detailed report will be available in the
next issue of RAFIQ magazine.
- Information: Amnesty International engages in a campaign - Change starts
with these three words, "I welcome refugees"
Your attention and support are most welcome..