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  General News about Refugees 2017

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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.