|2018 November October September August July June May April March February January
In November 2018
- An asylum seeker with a provisional release status moved to the RAFIQ shelter
An asylum seeker supported by RAFIQ was recently given a provisional release status and moved from Omura Immigration Center to the RAFIQ shelter, Nanmin House. We met him when he was detained at Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau. After about one and half years, he was sent to Omura Immigration Center in Kyushu. In total he was detained for two years. Approx. 100 people are currently detained at the Omura center. Generally, the duration of a detention has been extended for the last three years, and even for a refugee it is very difficult to get a provisional release status. He was the fourth person who was released from the center in 2018.
He has been very keen to learn Japanese. Even though he had neither studied Japanese before nor been out of the detention centers, he studied Japanese by himself with some help from other detainees and RAFIQ. He became able to write letters to RAFIQ members in Japanese with kanji (Chinese characters). He is now getting to know 'real' Japan (not through watching television).
RAFIQ is going to support his new life in Japan with the help of members and other generous donors. Your support is always welcome!
- 'Nanmin Day' on December 8th
December 10th is Human Rights Day, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. RAFIQ organizes an associated event every year with the members of Nanmin Café. The theme of this year is "our community is leading to the world". The program will include a talk by a Syrian student, film screenings, and world kitchen. We wish you join us, enjoy the event and think about refugee issues.
|Date and time: 10:00-19:00 on Saturday, 8 December
Venue: Salon de AmanTo, 1-7-26 Nakazakinishi, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Entry fee: Free
- Film screenings
"La Cour de Babel – School of Babel" and "A Memory in Khaki"
1,000 yen (general admission), 800 yen (students)
- Stage performance
- 'Let's get to know refugee issues' – Talk by a Syrian student, a lecture, and a symposium
- 'World Kitchen – Let's try food of countries from which refugees come'
- Stalls by refugee supporting organizations
Click to PDF flyer
- Relevant news about refugee issues in Japan 1
Yugo Hirano, 'Japanese idiosyncrasy observed in the lost lawsuit of an asylum seeker from Syria – Too much requirement to submit "evidences of being persecuted"', Kyodo, 5 November 2018 (in Japanese)
- Relevant news about refugee issues in Japan 2
Anonymous, 'Osaka Immigration facility locked 17 detainees in room for six "to
keep order"', The Japan Times, 6 November 2018
- RAFIQ participated in the Yodogawa Riverbed Festival
RAFIQ opened its stall for the first time at Yodogawa Riverbed Festival on sunny Sunday 14 October. The festival is organized by a committee of members from community groups based in Yodogawa-ku, where our RAFIQ office (Nanmin House) is located. The festival was the 17th one in 2018.
RAFIQ opened a stall there with other NPOs. Our stall sold RAFIQ original goods such as notes, cards, badges and yo-yo catching. Five RAFIQ members helped the stall. Yo-yo catching was much more popular than we expected, and yo-yos were completely sold out. We were pleased to know that the stall brought in good amount of revenue to RAFIQ. In addition, being there was effective to let the community know about RAFIQ activities and raise awareness about refugee issues in Japan. We are delighted that RAFIQ was able to make our debut in local Yodogawa-ku community.
- RAFIQ Library is now registered as 'Machi (town) Library@RAFIQ
One month has passed since RAFIQ joined the Machi-Library. 'Machi' in Japanese means town or community, and the Machi-Library is a network system connecting people through books. Visitors who visited Nanmin House for an introductory lecture, a meeting, or an event, stopped in the library and picked up books. RAFIQ members started borrowing books.
Now the library has approx. 300 books and journals. 10 or so books are added to the collection every month. The collection includes practical books useful for our refugee-supporting activities, and books on refugee issues in Japan and the world, current issues, history and culture of relevant countries. It covers not only non-fictions, but also novels, picture books, comics and even academic journal articles.
A RAFIQ member who is in charge of the library is happy to answer your questions and to discuss about books with you. RAFIQ members and others are welcome to the library. Please note that most of the books are written in Japanese. You are asked to consult with our Nanmin House website for opening hours.
In October 2018 No.162
- "Nanmin House Open Day" held on Oct 7th!
"Nanmin House Open Day" was held on Oct 7th, celebrating two
years after RAFIQ opened Nanmin House.
We were worried about a typhoon but fortunately it passed, and we could
hold the event. Visitors from high-school students to elderly people participated
in the event. Some of them came to Nanmin House for the first time, and
others came after long absence. We were able to introduce them the recent
activities of RAFIQ.
Participants asked questions about refugees enthusiastically at the mini
lecture or workshop. A refugee from south Asia who now lives in Osaka,
told his story how he had become a refugee for political reasons. We suppose
that the participants could have compassion for his feelings. Dishes of
Bangladesh, Iran and Burma were very delicious. Thank you very much to
many volunteers who joined from the previous day for cooking and preparation.
- RAFIQ library is now registered as a "Town Library"
Did you know that there's a library in Nanmin house? It has more than 200
books mostly in Japanese and related to refugee issues. Anybody can read
freely while Nanmin House is open, and you can borrow books after registration.
Cost for registration: general members 500yen, RAFIQ member 200yen
General members can borrow for 2weeks, RAFIQ members can do so for up to
You can come and read books anytime unless a reference room is occupied.
Please check the schedule of Nanmin House on RAFIQ website.
- Immigration Issues: A RAFIQ member participated in a seminar and a meeting
A seminar and a meeting with supporters of Omura Immigration Center called
by Network Kyushu was held from September 20th to 21st in Nagasaki prefecture,
and one of RAFIQ members attended. There were more than 30 attendants from
Kyushu, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.
How to support not only refugees but also people who are unable to go back
or do not want to go back to their own countries became a topic. The status
of an immigration center in each region and the current situation of very
few provisional releases came up in conversation as well.
RAFIQ was given 5 or 6 minutes to talk about our activities like a support
for provisional release and a shelter for refugees. As the number of asylum
seekers who are sent from Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau to Omura Immigration
Center is increasing, we aim to strengthen collaboration of the support
each other. A RAFIQ member and local supporters could meet an asylum seeker
who had been sent from Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau. Such meeting
is planned to be held again in the future.
- JLNR (Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees) issued a protest statement on
The Ministry of Justice announced that the numbers of refugee recognition
were 22, which already exceeded 20, the number of people who were given
official refugee status in a year last year.
Regarding this statement, Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees (JLNR) issued
the protest statement. The contents are as follows:
- The Ministry of Justice considers that the number of refugee applications
has decreased, because applicants who are not genuine asylum seekers and
just object to secure jobs in Japan, discontinued the misuse or abuse of
the refugee application system and returned to their country. However,
it is just the speculation without verification.
- Even if the number of the recognition has increased, Japan is still identified
as one of the countries, in which refugee protection rate is less than
10% by UNHCR. The situation that asylum seekers who should be protected
are not protected stay unchanged.
- There is a concern that Japan is violating the principle of non-refoulement.
Asylum seekers who should be protected become unable to bear the detention
and return to their country.
- JLNR criticizes the Ministry of Justice for their too much emphasis on
the inhibition of misuse or abuse of the system. JLNR asks them to carry
out the international responsibility.
In September 2018 No.161
- October 7th Osaka Nanmin House Open Day
RAFIQ means "a friend" in Persian and Arabic. We are a citizen
group doing various activities around Kansai area from 2002 with the aim
of building a community in which we can live with refugees.
It's been 2 years since we had opened "Osaka Nanmin House" in
Higashi-mikuni near Shin Osaka Station in October 2016. Open Day will be
held in order to let the citizens know more about our activities and Nanmin
House. Please join us and celebrate the anniversary.
|Date: October 7th (Sun)
Time: 10:00-16:00 (No reservation required. Come and go at any time.)
Venue: Osaka Nanmin House
Cost: 500 yen- (cost will be used to support refugees in Japan)
- 9-13, 4 cho-me, Higashi-mikuni, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka-city
Program: Exhibition of RAFIQ activities and books regarding refugee issue
- Let us know about refugees and refugee problem
Let us have meals from refugees' country of origin
10:00- Open Cafe Open (1F)
10:30-11:00 Mini lecture on refugee issues (2F learning room)
11:20-12:00 Workshop (1)
12:30-13:00 Mini lecture on refugee issues (2F learning room)
- "If you became a refugee, what would you do? Fleeing out of your country"
(2F learning room)
13:30-15:00 Workshop (2)
- A repeat lecture of the morning one
15:00-16:00 Let us listen to refugee's talk (2F shelter)
- "If you became a refugee, what would you do? Being detained at an
immigration bureau" (2F learning room)
- Justice Ministry announced that 22 asylum seekers were granted refugee
status in the first half of 2018!
On August 31st, Justice Ministry announced the confirmed figures regarding
refugee applications in the first half of this year with the title "The
status after further revision of operations of the refugee recognition
The numbers of refugee recognition were 22, which already exceeded 20 (the
total number of people who were given official refutgee status in a year
last year). There were 5 granted within the jurisdiction of the Osaka Regional
Despite the small increase from last year, it is still far from the number
in advanced countries accepting a substantial number of refugees.
Regarding the contents of this announcement, it is written as if the number
of the processed applications exceeded that of submitted applications,
and the Justice Ministry's new measures have been effective. However, an
immigration bureau sometimes tries not to accept an application at the
counter. Even when an application is accepted, the immigration bureau focuses
on speeding up the process and rushing to a negative decision. It seems
they have strengthened their "anti-refugee" policy and have made
the screening process even tougher.
August, 31st, 2018 Refugee applications plunge 35% in six months with tougher screening process, The Japan Times
- Yomiuri Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun recently published articles for which
RAFIQ was interviewed
If you read Japanese, please see the following articles.
http://rafiq.jp/media/180830yom.html （August, 30th,2018 The Yomiuri Shimbun）
http://rafiq.jp/media/180903mai.html (September,3rd,2018 The Mainichi Shibbun)
In August 2018 No.160
- More than 700 petitions requesting the residence of an asylum seeker from
723 petitions requesting the residency of an asylum seeker from Ghana were
gathered in about a month and we submitted them to Osaka Regional Immigration
Bureau on July 25th.
Thank you very much!
As all of his procedures for the refugee status were rejected, he has been
suffering from the instability of illegal residency. Although he has been
married with a Japanese for 2 years, he still has to be frightened of detention
We will keep you informed in case anything would change.
- Five asylum seekers were granted refugee status from January to June this
year under the jurisdiction of Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau!
We received these figures from Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau responding
to our inquiry regarding refugee status recognition.
From June last year, the primary decision of the refugee recognition has
shifted to local immigration bureaus.
|special permission for
residence on humanitarian
We analyze these figures as follows:
- the number of applicants has decreased
This doesn't mean that the applicants became fewer practically. There are
reports that some applicants are not allowed to submit their application
at the immigration office counter after the government worsened Immigration
rules in this January.
How can an officer at the counter judge without checking the contents of
Do they provide an appropriate interpreter for applicants?
The Immigration Bureau says that the decrease in number of refugee status
application shows the effect of "the revision of an operation"
through the newspaper.
- the number of the recognition has increased
Compared to last year's figure, 20 recognitions throughout Japan, 5 in
the first half of this year under the jurisdiction of Osaka Regional Immigration
Bureau are quite many.
We are still not sure that applicants whom RAFIQ supports were included
because they don't contact with applicants directly soon. It sometimes
turns out when applicants renew the status of residence.
- Regarding a special permission for residence on humanitarian ground
This is a permission for residence for one year. When an application was
rejected and all procedures were completed, it is considered with a humanitarian
point of view. But the criteria are unclear. This number, 3 in the first
half of this year, has decreased.
We do not know whether the above tendency is seen only within Osaka Regional
Immigration Bureau or a national trend because the number of other immigration
bureau has not been announced.
- Ethiopian asylum seeker won at the Tokyo District Court!
The Tokyo District Court has overturned the decision of the denial for
an Ethiopian woman's asylum application on August 8th. When she resisted
against the police as an activist in her country, she was assaulted and
arrested. After coming to Japan in 2008, she applied for refugee recognition.
Her application was rejected in 2011, and her appeal was rejected in 2015.As
she had not been satisfied with the decision in her case, she filed a lawsuit
in the court seeking revocation of the immigration decision.
However, the government may appeal against the decision, and the asylum
seeker herself needs to prove the documentary evidences are genuine, which
is a very challenging task for her.
Please keep an eye on these cases and support asylum seekers.
August 9th, 2018 Court reverses decision denying Ethiopian's refugee status,
The Asahi Shimbun
In July 2018 No.159
- UNHCR has announced the number of world refugees in 2017 toward the World
According to UNHCR's annual Global Trends report, the number of people
forcibly displaced by the conflict was 68.5 million people and, of which
25.4 million people were forced out of their home by a conflict and chased
due to persecution in 2017. It was, the largest increase in UNHCR single
The report also refers to the specifically low refugee recognition rate
in Japan, and it was lined up with Gabon, Israel, Pakistan, South Korea,
saying the rate was less than 1%.
UNHCR Global Trends - Forced Displacement in 2017
- 6/24 World Refugee Day 2018 in Kansai
Around 150 people with a wide range of age participated in the assembly
of ‘World Refugee Day 2018 in Kansai' on June 24th despite being just after
the earthquake in northern Osaka.
Mr. Toshitsuki Kawauchi of UNHCR talked about the situation of refugees
in the world and Asahi Shimbun reporter Mr. Takuya Asakura spoke about
impressions of the world's "walls" that he covered at monthly
Asahi Shimbun GLOBE. A The theme of the event was "Why don't we break
walls", and the reports appeals have been addressed by the various
support groups reported about their activities and appealed to the audience.
- A Sri Lankan man who had his refugee application declined by the Ministry
of Justice despite an earlier successful lawsuit won again!
On July 5th, The Tokyo District Court made a rare order to the state to
grant asylum to a Sri Lankan man who had his refugee application declined
by the ministry of Justice despite an earlier successful lawsuit. Even
though the winning of the case at the Osaka District Court in 2011, the
mMinistry of Justice did not qualify for his refugee status because the
conflict had ended and the country became a safe place. The case that the
Ministry of Justice does not approve refugee status is increasing despite
of the winning the law suit. Since the judgment orders for refugee recognition,
it must fulfill it properly.
Sakura Murakami, July 5 2018, The court defies Justice Ministry in ordering
asylum for Sri Lankan man, The Japan Times
In June 2018 No.158
- The number of the new refugee applicants amounted to 3,015 from January
The number of refugee applicants to Japan has increased rapidly, reaching
approximately 10,000 in 2016 and 20,000 in 2017. Although it is decreasing,
it can be reached to more than 10,000 this year as well.
The Ministry of Justice has further tightened its refugee recognition procedures
and the assessment of applications since January 15th.
In some cases refugee applicants were not given an application form or
his/her application was refused to accept at the immigration bureau. According
to a media report by Kyodo on May 25th, the Ministry of Justice seems to
consider that the decrease in the number of refugee applications demonstrates
a positive outcome of the tighter assessment. However, it should be considered
how to protect those who escaped from persecution.
- "Earth Culture Festival Vol.2 GLORRY x Afghan" on July 8th
We will hold an event "Earth Culture Festival Vol. 2 GLORRY x Afghan"
at Nanmin House on July 8th. Last year's theme was Ghana, and this year's
one will be Afghanistan. We will exhibit Afghanistan's traditional costumes
and valuable photos with full cooperation of Lala Association that supports
women's education locally.
You can try fitting experience of "Burka (a full cloak worn by Muslim
women)". Men will also be welcome.
And we will serve Afghan's home cooking from Nanmin House kitchen.
Earth Culture Festival Vol.2 GLORRY x Afghan
Date and time: July 8th (Sun) 11:30-16:00
Venue: Osaka Nanmin House
Cost: free (Food and drinks will be charged)
Charity: 500yen / single unit
Cooperation: Lala Association
- 1st Floor: Afghan Cafe "Let's feel Afghan dishes in your stomach"
GLORRY will serve typical Afghan dishes from the kitchen (Limited amount)
- 2nd Floor: Exhibition "Let's learn more about Afghanistan! (culture,
history, and society)
We exhibit Afghan's traditional tribal costumes, real Kilim cloths, valuable
photos of women and children. (cooperated by Lala Association)
Please come and get to know Afghanistan from various angles.
- 2nd Floor: Let's see Japan's refugee issues through an Afghan refugee's
Afghanistan is the second largest source country of refugees (2.5 million)
in 2016, and they come to Japan as well. However, here in Japan called
"refugee isolation country", most of them are not recognized
their refugee status and forced to live a hard life. Please feel the real
refugee issues through one Afghan youth.
(The contents may be changed.)
- "Visiting Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau on May 18th"
We visited Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau on May 18. The visit was organized
by Amnesty International Japan and Domestic Human Rights Net. Since we
regularly visit there to see detainees, we had strong interest in this
Our findings through the visit include
- Compared to the ratio of people who have been detained for more than one
year at Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau (4.7%) and Nagoya Regional Immigration
Bureau (6.5%), the ratio at Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau (22.7%) is
much higher than others. Some have been detained for 3 years. Our recent
experiences show that some detainees are transferred to Omura immigration
Center (one of two immigration detention centers in Japan) after 1 year
or more, but others are not. We do not know how they judge.
- Omura Immigration Center does not receive women. Therefore, they have been
detained at Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau, which is supposed to be
a short-term detention center, for long time. We asked about their future
plan for that problem, but they answered it was not even under consideration.
- Regarding the Muslim diet, they do not serve pork to Muslims, but do neither
prepare real halal food nor sell such food for them. Despite of many detainees
from Muslim countries, they do not cater to detainees' religions needs
Not only Osaka Immigration Bureau, medical problems have been reported
a lot recently.
Sotaro Hata, May 30, 2018, The Asahi Shimbun ; Turkish asylum seeker sues over arm broken in immigration cell
April 17, 2018 BBC News ; Japan detention center immigrants start hunger strike
In May 2018 No.157
- .Come and join us at the World Refugee Day in Kansai
A leaflet of an event on 24 June "World Refugee Day 2018 in Kansai"
is available now
This event is supported by contributions, fees to be collected on the day,
and donations. We appreciate your cooperation.
contributions, donations 500yen / single unit, 1,000yen / Group rates (any
amount of either unit will be welcomed)
Japan Post Bank (Yucho Bank) Branch Number : 408
Futsu Account number : 7100544
Account name : Sekai Nanmin No Hi Jikko Iinkai (World Refugee Day Executive
-- An Invitation for The World Refugee Day in Kansai 2018 --
Date : 24 June ( Sun) 11:30 - 16:30 ( Assembly starts 12:30 )
Venue : Osaka Municipal Housing Information Center Access
Fee : general 1000yen, student 500yen
"As the same human beings sharing the same planet and time"
Every year, June 20 marks the United Nations' (UN) World Refugee Day.
Around that time, many events for raising awareness of refugee issues take
place across the world. In Osaka we also organize an annual assembly.
What would you do, if you encountered asylum seekers who had fled from
an armed conflict or persecution? Why don't we learn more about refugees?
Is there anything we can do for them?
Theme of this year : Why don't we break down our inner walls?
- Introduction "Refugees in Japan"
- Keynote address " Refugees in Japan and the world"
Mr. Toshitsuki Kawauchi, Senior Protection Officer, the UNHCR Representation
- Lecture "My experience in reporting ‘walls in Japan and the world'"
Mr. Takuya Asakura, Asahi Shimbun
- "Refugees are here in Japan!" - introducing refugees in Japan
by Japan Association for Refugees (JAR)
- Why don't we break walls in society? - Cases in Nagoya, Door to Asylum
- Why don't we break walls in economy? -Charity party to support refugees
- Why don't we break walls in ourselves? - Students' efforts
- Why don't we break walls in ourselves? - RAFIQ's efforts in Kansai
- Why don't we break walls in the current system? - Changes in the operation
of Japanese system to grant asylum
- Photo Exhibition : Where do refugees come from ?
- Booth of NGO's supporting refugees
- Other associated events on the World Refugee Day
Every year, many events are held around the world sometime around 20 June,
the World Refugee Day. RAFIQ has also been holding the assembly from 2006,
regarding the refugee and the issue of refugee acceptance in Japan.
- Interactive Peace Salon "Peace beyond the border Lecture, exhibition
Date: 9 June ( Sat ) 10:00 -17:00
Venue: Takatsuki City Hall 207 (Back of Takatsuki contemporary theatre)
RAFIQ will exhibit our booth.
- Book Club"Let's talk about the refugee issue" (reservation required)
Date: 15 June ( Fri ) 18:30 - 20:00
Venue: Machi Library @ Morinomiya Q's Mall
RAFIQ will be a co-organizer.
- FNS Charity Campaign "A report of on-the-ground research - Children
of Rohingya refugees" by Ms. Akiko Yamanaka (Fuji TV reporter)
Date: 16 June (Sat)
Venue: Kansai TV Ogimachi Square 1F
RAFIQ will exhibit our booth.
- Refugee Movie Screenings
Date: 16 June (Sat), 17 (Sun) 15:00 -, 18:00 -
Venue: on 16 June Nanmin House (reservation required), 17 June Tengeki
- Nanmin Cafe special "My experience of supporting refugees in Finland"
Date: 19 June ( Tue ) 19:00 -21:00
Venue: Shuka (Osaka Nakasakicho)
- Meeting with Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center (Japan Association for Refugees)
On 9 May, JAR (Japan Association for Refugees) released the summary of
a meeting with Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center. Groups and 13 individuals
who regularly visit the center to see immigration detainees attended the
meeting with some politicians. Some findings include:
- The number of detainees in the facilities nationwide has increased, and
the detention is prolonged
- Refugee applicants detained in the facility are increasing nationwide
- The number of cases of medical treatment outside the facility is decreasing
- The number of the detainees and budget has both increased but the number
of staffs has not.
Tomo Yamguchi, 21 May, No. of foreign nationals detained at immigration
facilities for over 6 months on rise, The Mainichi
- Recording false statement, Suicide issue, is there correct treatment at
the immigration bureau?
Some recent incidents at Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and Higashi-Nihon
Immigration Center (Ushiku, Ibaraki) suggest inhuman treatment of detainees
at immigration centers. The incidents include the ignorance and disrespect
of detainees' claims of ill-health and a medical problem; a false report
by immigration staff regarding a detainee's claim; a discrepancy between
a staff diary and a report; and a suicide.
Indian suicide case at an Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center
On 13 April, an Indian man died at Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center. He
was found collapsed in the shower room with the towel being wrapped around
his neck, and he died at the hospital. It appears that he committed a suicide
because his application for provisional release had been denied. He applied
for the refugee status within 3 days after he entered Japan. It is believed
that he had been detained for a deportation after the application had been
denied. But even if an application is denied, a deportation is not allowed
by the principal of non-refoulement.
Thomas Wilson 13 April, 2018 Indian man dies in Japanese immigration detention
center in apparent suicide, Reuters
Did the immigration bureau falsify details? Tokyo Regional Immigration
Bureau altered the documents?
Regarding a case in June 2017 that a Turkish Kurd man caused peritonitis
because the bureau didn't allow him a treatment at the hospital after his
appendicitis surgery. Although immigration officials neglected him for
more than a month after verbally abusing him in response to his complaints,
they stated falsely on their diary that he complained just two days before
they took him to the hospital. Also, it turned out that the contents written
in their diary and in a report which was submitted to their boss were different.
In April 2018 No.156
- Justice Ministry announced the confirmed figures regarding refugee applications
On 21 March, the Ministry of Justice, Japan, announced the confirmed figures
concerning refugee applications in Japan in 2017. A record-high 19,628
people applied for refugee status. Among them only 20 – mainly from Egypt,
Syria and Afghanistan - were given refugee status. Further 45 individuals
were allowed to stay in Japan based on humanitarian grounds.
In addition to numerical data such as the number of applications for refugee
recognition by nationality, status of residence, sex and age groups, the
number of appeals, and the status of processing, examples of the claims
in the refugee recognition applications are listed. They are divided into
two categories: main claims of the recognized refugees; and, those of the
A press release in English is available from the internet.
Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice, Japan, March 2018, "Number
of applicants recognized as refugees in 2017", Press Release
The number of unprocessed applications including unprocessed appeals exceeded
40,000. Moreover, the government changed the operation for the worse from
2018, and almost all applications for refugee recognition and appeals were
After the announcement by the Ministry of Justice, the issue was discussed
at committee meetings of the Diet. Videos in Japanese can be seen from
internet deliberation relay.
Links to media reports and statements released by refugee supporting organizations
on the issue are available in Japanese from the RAFIQ website.
- .World Refugee Day 2018 West Japan Assembly
The outline of the assembly is almost finalized as below. Please put the
event into your schedule.
- Theme： Why don't we break down our inner walls?
- Estimated turnout: 180
- Date： Sunday, 24 June 2018
- Time: 11:30-16:30, The assembly program will start at 12:30.
- Venue: Osaka Municipal Housing Information Center
Program (to be confirmed)
- Introduction: "Refugee issues in Japan"
- Keynote address: "Refugees in Japan and in the world"
Mr. Toshitsuki Kawauchi, Senior Protection Officer, the UNHCR Representation
- Lecture: "My experience in reporting ‘walls' in the world"
Mr. Takuya Asakura, Asahi Shimbun
- "Refugees are here in Japan!" – Introducing refugees in Japan
by Japan Association for Refugees (JAR)
- Why don't we break walls in society? – cases in Nagoya, Door to Asylum
- Why don't we break walls in economy? – Charity Party to support refugees
- Why don't we break walls in ourselves? – Students' efforts
- Why don't we break walls in ourselves? – RAFIQ's efforts in Kansai
- Why don't we break walls in the current system? – Changes in the operation
of Japanese system to grant asylum
- Photo Exhibition: Where do refugees come from?
- Booths of NGOs supporting refugees
- Syrian refugees lost the case
Tokyo District Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Syrian asylum seekers,
and confirmed the Immigration Bureau's decision not to grant them refugee
Very serious conditions in Syria are well-known in the world. Western countries
grant refugee status to asylum seekers from Syria with overwhelming probability,
for example, Germany (87%), UK (91%), USA (94%), and Canada (96%) (UNHCR,
2014). Only a few are granted refugee status in Japan, though some others
are allowed to stay in Japan based on humanitarian grounds. We should note
the difference between two statuses. Refugee status, which is recognized
internationally, is very important. Resident status based on humanitarian
grounds gives asylum seekers only limited right.
- New fridge has come to Nanmin House!
RAFIQ purchased a new fridge and it is finally here in Nanmin House. Now
we have enough space to stock sheltered refugees' food and the food donated
regularly from Food Bank.
We received donations not only from Japan, but also from the USA. A Japanese
student studying abroad at an American university helped RAFIQ as a summer
intern in 2017. After returning to the USA, he started a fundraising campaign
to buy a new fridge and sent collected money to RAFIQ.
Fundraising campaign by Eiji Toda, "Support my friends (refugees) in Japan"
We thank everyone for their support. As the number of people who need our
help has been increasing, we should extend assistance. Your donation to
the funding for RAFIQ activities are always appreciated and welcome!
In March 2018 No.155
- RAFIQ agreed with the claim coordinated by Solidarity Network with Migrants
Japan (SMJ) against deportation of 47 Vietnamese by charter aircraft
Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice, deported47 Vietnamese to Vietnam
by charter aircraft on 8 February. They included 40 men and women who were
deported against their will. Four stayed in Japan more than 15 years (the
longest one stayed in Japan for 21 years and 5 months), 12 had to leave
their family behind, 24 were asylum seekers, and two were people underage.
Details of the protest can be found in SMS's website (in Japanese).
In February 2018 No.154
- RAFIQ participated in One World Festival on 3-4 February
RAFIQ set up a booth at One World Festival held in Osaka-shi Kita-kumin
Center and Ogimachi Park on 3-4 February again this year. GLORRY (Glocal
Links of Refugees and RAFIQ Youths) conducted a workshop on refugee issues
'If you became a refugee, ...' (from leaving your country to being detained
in the Immigration Bureau in Japan) there.
Many NGOs, NPOs, local governments, companies, and international organizations
participate in the festival to introduce their activities to visitors,
to promote cross-cultural exchange, and to develop relations with other
organizations. RAFIQ has set up a booth at the festival every year since
This year many people visited our booth, and staff in charge constantly
talked with visitors. The GLORRY workshop was very popular. We had a capacity
for 40 persons, and we were pleased to see the room was full.
We prepared a new RAFIQ flyer prior to the festival, and we handed out
500 copies there. The festival resulted in success for us. Thanks to those
who came to the RAFIQ booth and participated in the activities.
- More than 19,000 asylum applications in 2017, but only 20 were successful
On 13 February the Justice Ministry announced preliminary figures regarding
refugee status application. Japan received a record nearly 20,000 asylum
applications in 2017, but only 20 were granted refugee status. The approval
rate of 0.1% is far too low by world standards. We care about refugees
who fled from their own country, finally arrived, but found themselves
in no hope in Japan.
Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) released critical comments on the
issue, "Are most of asylum seekers in Japan 'fake refugees'? Questioning
the reasonability of recognizing only 20 people as refugees in one year",
and we fully support the comments.
More detailed figures are usually announced by the end of March.
- Osumi, M., 13 February 2018, 'Japan saw record number of refugee applicants in 2017, Justice Ministry
says', The Japan Times.
- Wilson, T. et al., 13 February 2018, 'Japan took in 20 asylum seekers last year as nearly 20,000 applied', Reuters.
- Komatsu, R., 14 February 2018, 'Japan maintains tough stance on refugees, only 20 accepted in 2017, The
- Responses from the media to the announcement by the Ministry of Justice
regarding tightening refugee process and refugee status rules
As reported in RAFIQ Magazine (No. 153), the Ministry of Justice limited
the right to work of refugee applicants from 15 January. We would see more
serious influence later, but we have already heard a few problems. Prior
to the change the Immigration Bureau received all applications for refugee
status at an immigration counter, but they now seem to reject some applications
at the counter. We do not know why, but this would be problematic. Moreover,
an applicant is not informed why his/her application is rejected at the
counter, and into which category (A, B, C or D) their application falls.
We are pleased to see some media published critical articles and editorials
on the change. One example is a late-night TV program by NHK. They introduced
the issue, and even discussed how system to grant asylum should function
- Category A: applicants with a good chance of being accepted
- Category B: applicants who are clearly not refugees
- Category C: applicants who have re-submitted an application giving the
same reason with their first application
- Category D: all other applicants
In January 2018 No.153
- New Year's greetings from RAFIQ coleaders
To RAFIQ Magazine readers,
We would like to take this occasion to wish you a Happy New Year.
We received Christmas cards and New Year's greeting cards from refugees
we had supported. They included one from an immigration detainee. Some
of them were learning Japanese and wrote their message in Japanese with
In 2017, among refugees RAFIQ had supported one was given an official refugee
status in October, and another one was granted a special permission for
residence on humanitarian grounds in June. However, among lawsuits in the
court seeking revocation of the immigration decision, one lost a case in
the Osaka High Court and another one lost a case in the Osaka District
Some immigration detainees RAFIQ had supported applied for a provisional
release, but their applications were rejected in 2017 except for one approved
on 28 December. As a large amount of guaranty money was required, it took
some time for him to be released.
The number of applicants for asylum in Japan has been increasing. The government
tries to make already-difficult circumstances for refugee applicants even
more difficult. Introducing a tougher restriction on work is an example.
We believe that the protection of refugee applicants and more prompt recognitions
of those who fall into the category of refugees under the Convention relating
to the Status of Refugee are important as Japan's humanitarian assistance.
Refugees are people who seek peace and safe living environments for their
family. We ourselves should promote peace and safe living environments
in our surroundings, too.
We value your donation money and goods we receive, and carefully use them.
Thank you for your continuous support in 2018.
Keiko Tanaka and Yoshie Hirokawa
- Between January and September 2017, there were 14,043 refugee applications
in Japan, but only 10 received refugee status: None from UNHCR top five
countries of origin
Some related articles are:
- The Ministry of Justice: From 15 January the right to work of refugee applicants
is to be limited
Some related articles are:
Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees (JLNR) issued a statement concerning
this policy change announced by the Ministry of Justice, and required its
review. RAFIQ fully support the statement.
- Minami Funakoshi and Ami Miyazaki, 12 January 2018, 'Japan to curb asylum
seekers' right to work from Monday', Reuters
- Anonymous, 12 January 2018, 'Gov't to tighten refugee status rules to decrease
false applications, speed up process', The Mainichi
- Ryujiro Komatsu, 12 January 2018, 'Japan to tighten refugee process, clamp
down on work eligibility', The Asahi Shimbun