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In December 2017 No.152
  1. Thank you for your support to RAFIQ and generous donations throughout 2017!

    RAFIQ has been active in supporting refugees in Japan. We not only help them during the process of applying for refugee status, but also provide them livelihood support. Thanks to our new office 'Nanmin House' opened in October 2016, we now have much more enquiries and calls for help. We supported refugees from 25 countries in 2017 including a single mother with a young child, a man living in a tent, a man who paid his rent on a day-to-day basis. Some of our visible results in 2017 are: (1) one was given an official refugee status; (2) one was granted a special residence permission; and (3) one was given a provisional release status. We owe such accomplishments all to the support from people like you.

    In the long process of applying for asylum, we support applicants to collect an enormous quantity of information/evidences and translate them into Japanese. Even after they submit application for asylum, they are not allowed to work. Refugees who are given a provisional release status cannot work until they are given an official refugee status. It is still difficult for a non-Japanese to rent a house in Japan. We value your donation money and goods and carefully use them to support such people.

    The number of people who apply for refugee status in Japan is rapidly increasing. Near the close to another year, we appreciate your support and donations, and we ask your continuous support. (Japanese Only)

    A RAFIQ student member living in the USA is now calling for donation to buy a fridge in Nanmin House. He returned to Japan during this summer and worked for RAFIQ on an internship. He saw one of two fridges, essential to store foods delivered by Food Bank, was going to be broken. He explains refugee issues in Japan and calls for help. It would be great if his initiative enabled more people to become aware of the serious situation in Japan in which refugee applicants are in.

    Support My Friends (Refugees) in Japan | Charity & Nonprofit Fundraising with GoGetFunding

  2. Human Rights Committee, United Nations, released the advance unedited version of "List of issues prior to submission of the seventh periodic report of Japan" on 24 November 2017

    Regarding 'treatment of aliens, including refugees and asylum seekers', Human Rights Committee asks the Japanese government to report on measures taken to:
    1. prevent ill-treatment during deportations;
    2. ensure that all persons applying for international protection, including those place on 'fast track' procedures are given access to fair and efficient asylum procedures and protection against refoulement;
    3. provide access to an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions on asylum;
    4. implement in good faith positive opinions in refugee cases of refugee adjudication councilors and the High Court;
    5. ensure that the detention of asylum-seekers is used only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest possible period, and only after existing alternatives to administrative detention have been duly considered and that asylum-seekers are able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court.

    Please see the document below for more details.
    Human Rights Committee, United Nations, 24 November 2017, "List of issues prior to submission of the seventh periodic report of Japan (Advance unedited version)" (pdf)

    We would like to call your attention to how the Japanese government responds to these requests.

In November 2017 No.151
  1. Report on the Annual General Meeting - 16th Anniversary of the foundation of RAFIQ

    RAFIQ went into its 16th year in September, and 21 members attended the AGM on 12 November.
    The most important achievement in the last year (September 2016 - August 2017) was the opening of our new office, 'Nanmin House'. Our dream of having our own office came true thanks to the generosity of the owner of a house who let us use the house with no rent. It was surprizing and delightful news for RAFIQ, because we had used a shared office in Takatsuki. Because of 'Nanmin House', now we have a shelter to support refugees who need a place to live urgently. Our support activities have expanded, and the number of supporters has increased.

    (1) The number of enquiries from refugees has increased.

    Now we support refugees from 25 countries. We had 89 individual consultation meetings in the last year. Because of attention from the media, we have had enquiries from Japanese and non-Japanese supporters who personally support refugees, too. Thanks to 'Nanmin House', we are better organized to respond to calls for help.

    (2) Growing interest from citizens

    The total number of people who attended our introductory lectures on refugee issues including lectures at schools and other organizations was approximately 340 in the last year. They included high school students, senior citizens and people from the media.

    (3) The number of RAFIQ members exceeded our target 100, and reached 120!

    We believe that they are great assets of RAFIQ and support our activities.

    At the AGM, report on the activities and our course of action were explained and discussed. Then, Ms Hirokawa (Joint representative of RAFIQ, lawyer) gave a lecture on refugee issues from the perspective of the Constitution, and World Cafe 'If we conducted refugee status determination, what could we do?' was led by Mr Takegaki. A full report in Japanese will be available from the RAFIQ website.

  2. 'World Nanmin Day' will come very soon!

    10:00-20:00 on Sunday 10 December 2017 (Human Rights Day)
    Venue: Shuka, Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Nakazaki-cho 1-1-18
    Phone: 06-6940-7224
    Organizers: Neo Nanmin-Cafe Network and RAFIQ
    Theme: "We are connected to the world"
    The program includes film screenings ('Slingshot Hip Hop'), talk by a refugee, and a symposium. You can also enjoy a flea market and World Kitchen.

    10:00- Opening and oboe music
    12:15- World Kitchen 1 (Food from Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Vietnam, etc.)
    13:30- World popular music
    13:50- Short lecture on refugee issues
    14:20- Hawaiian music
    15:00- Talk by a refugee
    16:15- World Kitchen 2
    17:30- Music
    18:00- Symposium: We are connected to the world
    19:00- Performance by Jun Aman To

    13:30-18:00 Flea market

    Screen times: 10:30-, 13:00-, 15:30-, 17:30-
    Adults: 1,000 yen, High school students: 700 yen, Junior high-school students or under: 500 yen

  3. A move to further tighten a very tough refugee system by the Japanese government

    The government continues to reject a majority of (almost all) applications. They now try to further tighten the system.
    Thomas Wilson, 31 October 2017, Japan to launch crackdown on asylum seekers: Yomiuri', Reuters

  4. Report on Earth Culture Festival, Vol.1, GLORRY x Ghana

    GLORRY (Glocal Links of Refugees and RAFIQ Youths) had an opening event on Sunday 22 October, on the day Osaka was hit by a heavy typhoon. Despite wind and rain, we had some visitors including refugees. The Ghanaian food menu (two mains, two deserts, and one drink) was handwritten by a refugee from Ghana learning Japanese. Staff on the day were in Ghanaian ethnic costume sent from the family of a refugee. We all enjoyed the day, and GLORRY staff members are very pleased that refugees themselves enjoyed the event and talked about their country proudly.

In October 2017 No.150
  1. Annual General Meeting – 16th Anniversary of the foundation of RAFIQ

    One year has passed since we moved to our new office, Nanmin House, near Higashi Mikuni Station in Osaka. The number of RAFIQ members and enquiries from refugees and their supporters has increased. We also have received increasing number of media coverage by newspapers and TV stations. Due to the rapid increase in attention, we now face new challenges. We would like to sum up our activities in the year, openly discuss challenges, and maximize our potential abilities.
    The AGM is for members, but non-member can attend the meeting as a member if they pay the annual membership fee at the site.

    Time and Date: 14:00- on Sunday 12 November 2017
    Venue: KOKURO (National Railway workers Union) Osaka Kaikan, near JR Tenma Station. access

    Part 1
    • Summing up our activities in the fiscal year 2016 (September 2016 – August 2017)
    • Course of action in the fiscal year 2017 (September 2017 – August 2018)
    • Annual financial Report
    Part 2
    • Lecture: Refugee issues from the perspective of the Constitution
      Speaker: Ms Yoshie Hirokawa (Joint representative of RAFIQ, lawyer)
    Part 3
    • World Cafe

    Social gathering (Be billed at cost)

    To members who have not renewed your membership, please do so at the AGM.
    Annual membership fees
    3,000 yen
    1,000 yen for students

  2. Earth Culture Festival, Vol.1, GLORRY x Ghana
    GLORRY (Glocal Links of Refugees and RAFIQ Youths) will have our opening event.
    We want you to know refugee issues through food and culture. The theme of our first event is Ghana. Speaking of Ghana, what that brings to your mind? Chocolate? Dr. NOGUCHI Hideyo?
    In Ghana they have interesting cultures. We have many refugees from Ghana in Japan. Why don't we learn about their country and cultures first?
    • Time and Date: 11:30-16:00 on Sunday 22 October
    • Venue: Nanmin House, See to know how to get there from Higashi Mikuni Station
    • Cost: Free for entry and pay for Cafe
    • Organizer: GLORRY

  3. Japan accepts only three refugees in the first half of 2017!
    99 asylum seekers in Kansai area, and 8,561 in Japan including Kansai
    'Japan accepts 3 refugees in first half of 2017, despite record asylum seekers' Reuters, 3 October 2017

In September 2017 No.149
  1. Request for emergency assistance

    More and more refugees have contacted RAFIQ and asked for help. We provide daily necessities donated by people to needy refugees coming to Nanmin House. In addition, when we visit the Osaka Regional Immigration Centre to see detained refugees every month, we often take daily necessities such as tooth brushes, soaps, and towels for them. Your donations will be most welcome!
    • Must be NEW: Towels, tooth brushes, tooth pastes, soaps, laundry soaps, fabric softeners, shampoos, conditioners, bed linens
    • Preferably NEW: Futons
    • Remaining at least one month to a recommended use-by date: shelf-stable food such as rice, canned foods, retort-packed foods, and seasoning
    • Stationaries such as notes, pens, and folders

    You can either bring or send your donations to Nanmin House.
    Phone: 06 6335 4440
    Postal address: 532-0002, Nanmin House (RAFIQ), 4-9-13 Higashimikuni, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

  2. Donation money is also welcome!

    During the past year, we have supported refugees from 20 different countries. Most of them are single males, but they include a single mother and her child, and families. Our support activities cover a wide range including legal support (consultations, preparing documents, translation, etc.) and livelihood support (providing daily necessities, providing a temporary shelter, taking to a hospital, consulting about their Japanese language study etc.). Your donations will help us to continue and expand these activities.
    RAFIQ's bank account
    • Bank: Japan Post Bank (Yucho Ginko)
    • Branch name: 438 (yon-san-hachi)
    • Branch number: 438
    • Account number: 6677668
    • Account name: RAFIQ

  3. Nanmin House Open Day: Celebrating the first anniversary!

    Date: Sunday, 1 October
    Time: 10:00-18:00
    Venue: Nanmin House
    No entry fee, no booking required
    Everybody will be most welcome!

    The program includes
    • Photo exhibition showing our refugee supporting activities
    • Panel exhibition about refugees in Japan using panels prepared for the Special Exhibition of Refugees at Osaka Human Rights Museum (Liberty Osaka) from November 2016 to March 2017.
    • Talk by Mr. M, a refugee from Myanmar, "Leaving my country when I was at high school"
    • Mini-workshops by ‘GLORRY' (Global Links of Refugees and RAFIQ Youths), "If I became a refugee…"
    • Cafe RAFIQ: The menu will include spring rolls from Vietnam, peanut soup from Ghana, spicy tea from Afghanistan.

    10:00 Open
    11:00 Cafe RAFIQ open
    11:30 Workshop 1
    13:00 Workshop 2
    15:00 Talk by Mr. M, a refugee from Myanmar
    16:30 Workshop 3
    18:00 Close

  4. Another inappropriate attitude and behavior of refugee adjudication (examination) counsellors!

    Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees submitted petitions to the Ministry of Justice demanding to improve attitudes of refugee adjudication counsellors following alleged inappropriate questions to a female asylum seeker during a hearing.
    Daisuke Kikuchi, 12 September 2017, Lawyers' group petitions ministry to improve attitudes of refugee counsellors following alleged inappropriate remark, The Japan Times.

    We should note that this is not a one-off incident, but demonstrates the problems of the current closed system of refugee adjudication counsellor hearings. Though the names of counsellors are disclosed in public, the names of counsellors attended at a particular hearing are unknown. The record of a hearing does not show who asked which question, and problematic questions and remarks by refugee adjudication counsellors seem to have been deleted from a record at their discretion.
    Moreover, we are concerned that the counsellor hearing system has lost its substance. When the system started, we expected an improvement in Japan's system to grant asylum because of the involvement of external academic experts. However, recent cases demonstrate that even when refugee adjudication counsellors submit comments that an asylum seeker should be recognized as a refugee, the Minister of Justice does not incorporate their opinions in a determination.

    Further information:
    A refugee applicant may request an administrative review to the Minister of Justice after the recognition of refugee status is rejected. The Immigration Bureau explains about the refugee adjudication counsellor system as follows.
    The Refugee Adjudication Counsellors are appointed from among academic experts on legal issues or international affairs who have a respectable personality and can make fair judgments on requested administrative review. The refugee examination counsellors are treated as "inquiry commissioners" who are subject to the Administrative Appeal Act. They are mandated with leading the inquiry and expressing their opinion to the Minister of Justice. In addition, the Minister of Justice is obligated to hear the opinions of the refugee examination counsellors when making a determination on a request for an administrative review.
    Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice (2016) A Guide to the Procedure for Recognition of Refugee Status, pp.8-9

In July 2017 No.147
  1. The World Refugee Day 2017 West Japan Assembly on 2 July was very successful!

    180 people including many volunteers participated in the assembly. Active participation of many young people was great.

    The theme of this assembly was 'Refugees Welcome! What can we do in Japan? Refugee crisis shaking the world'. In Part 1, we learned the current situation of refugees in the world and how they accept refugees in Canada (Ms. Yukari Ando, specially appointed assistant professor, Osaka University) and Finland (Ms. Yuko Kametani). In Part 2, we listened deeply to the first-hand experience of the long journey of a refugee application process in Japan from Mr R who came from Afghanistan. Then we learned about a private sponsorship for Syrian refugees in Japan (Mr. Noritada Orii, Japan Association for Refugees), refugee homestays in Kanto (Ms. Sayaka Watanabe, WELgee). Ms Keiko Tanaka (RAFIQ) introduced Nanmin House and our activities there, and other refugee supporting organizations gave brief reports about their activities.

    We considered not only having an interest in refugee issues but also taking an action very important and encouraged participants to write what they themselves could do/wanted to do on a small leaf-shaped sticky note. We collected the leaves with messages and made a message tree! We hope the participants have realized it important to change our way of thinking. More reports and some handouts distributed on the day are available in Japanese from the website. (Japanise Only)

  2. "Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2016"

    UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency recently published their annual report.
    "The Global Trends Report is published every year to analyze the changes in UNHCR's populations of concern and deepen public understanding of ongoing crises. UNHCR counts and tracks the numbers of refugees, internally displaced people, people who have returned to their countries or areas of origin, asylum-seekers, stateless people and other populations of concern to UNHCR." You can download the full report from their website.

  3. Does Japan change the system to protect asylum seekers for the worse using 'an abuse of its refugee system' as an excuse?

    The Justice Ministry considers introducing a new system which does not allow refugee applicants to work. Currently, people with valid visas such as international students and foreign trainees, who apply for asylum receive six-month, renewable permits that let them stay and work in Japan while their applications are reviewed. However, the government intends to detain some asylum seekers when their visas expire to control so-called 'an abuse of its refugee system'.
    A related article is found:
In May 2017 No.145
  1. World Refugee Day 2017 West Japan Assembly - Your support will be very much appreciated!

    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. We will have the 12th assembly on 2 July. Your interest, support and participation will be very much appreciated!

    World Refugee Day 2017 West Japan Assembly
    Refugees Welcome!
    What can we do in Japan? Refugee crisis shaking the world

    23,487 asylum-seekers applied for refugee status in Japan in the past three years, but only 66 were recognized!
    Now the worst refugee crisis since World War II has been emerging. About 65 million men, women and children are now in urgent need of protection worldwide (in 2015). This means one in every 113 people in the world is either an asylum-seeker, an internally displaced person or a refugee, and the number of such forcibly displaced people is still growing.

    Many people have come to seek asylum to Japan as well. The number of people applying for refugee status in Japan has been increasing sharply in recent years. In 2016, 10,901 people applied for refugee status in Japan while only 28 were recognized as refugees. The total number of the last three years (2014-2016) amounts to 23,487 applicants, but only 66 were recognized.
    What can we do in Japan? Refugee crisis shaking the world
    If you find refugees escaping from war and persecution around you, what do you do?

    When we realize the reality that our lives in Japan are closely connected to the world, the international responsibility sharing is inevitable. But Japan has gained a bad reputation as hosting very limited number of refugees and being sealed off to the outside world. Nevertheless, we would like to pay attention that grass-roots activities of opening our heart to refugees and providing help for them are now growing. The acceptance of refugees through private sponsorship has just started.

    As we live on the same planet in the same period, we do not want to exclude displaced people. What can we do in Japan in order to say, "Refugees Welcome"? Let's think this over and discuss it!

    Date: Sunday, 2 July 2017, 11:00-16:30
    Osaka Municipal Housing Information Center

    Part 1: What can we do in Japan? Refugee crises shaking the world (11:00-13:00)
    • Introduction
    • Lecture 1: "Because we are living on the same planet"
      / Ms. Yukari Ando, specially appointed assistant professor, Osaka University
    • Lecture 2: "Accepting refugees in a country with a population of 5.4 million, Finland"
      / Ms. Yuko Kametani
    • Questions and answers


    Part 2: Refugees Welcome! (14:00-16:30)
    • Voices from refugees in Japan
    • Lecture 3: "Private sponsorship for Syrian refugees in Japan"
      / Mr. Norimasa Orii, JAR (Japan Association for Refugees)
    • 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

    Photos and paintings from Afghanistan, Syria and Burma under military administration will be exhibited, and some NGOs in Kansai will set up a booth to introduce their activities of supporting refugees.


In April 2017 No.144
  1. Successful completion of the special exhibition of refugees, November 2016-March 2017

    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 Headquarters (RHQ).

    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

  2. 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 world
    • 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)
    • Introduction
    • 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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
  1. .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

  2. 18 February: National meeting of people involved in supporting refugees in Japan

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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
  1. 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:
    • Name of the bank: Japan Post Bank
    • Branch number: 438
    • Account number: 6677668
    • Account name: RAFIQ
    Our target is 300,000 yen.

  2. 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 was full.

  3. A record 10,901 people sought asylum in Japan in 2016, but only 28 were accepted

    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 Shimbun
    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.

  4. 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

  5. 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).

    1. 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 points clearly.

    2. 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 refugee status.

      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 (real refugees).
      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
  1. 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
    1. RAFIQ's new office (Nanmin House) opened on 1 October in Osaka
    2. The number of RAFIQ members reached almost 100
    3. 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
    4. 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.
    5. 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 2016)
    6. The civil war in Syria led to endless confusion. Continuous increase in the number of asylum seekers going to Europe
    7. United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants was held in the UN HQ on 19 September193 member states signed up the New York Declaration.
    8. RAFIQ has supported increasing number of asylum seekers from the Middle-East and Africa since around June.
    9. 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.
    10. The exhibition on refugees started in Liberty Osaka (till 18 March 2017)

    Your continuous support to RAFIQ in 2017 will be most appreciated.

    January 2017
    Joint representatives, RAFIQ
    Keiko TANAKA and Yoshie HIROKAWA

  2. 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, 2017
    Venue: Suita Catholic Church access
    Admission: 800 yen

  3. 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 in Japanese.

  4. 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.

  5. Information: Amnesty International engages in a campaign - Change starts with these three words, "I welcome refugees"

    Your attention and support are most welcome..


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.