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  General News about Refugees 2018

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In December 2018
  1. Report of 'Nanmin Day' event

    RAFIQ and Nanmin Café jointly held 'World Nanmin Day' on December 8. We were pleased that we had many visitors and saw the growing interest by people in refugee issues and the role of Japan in the international community.
    We had a lot of activities and programs on the day including a talk by a Syrian student, a lecture, a symposium, film screenings, and stage performances. Tasty food of countries from which refugees come were served at World Kitchen. Three refugees came to help us and played an important role at the kitchen. Beautiful handmade goods and references were sold at stalls by refugee supporting organizations.
    Thanks to all of you who joined us on the day!

  2. Introductory Lecture on Refugees and GLORRY Zemi

    Many people seem to have interest in recent debate on Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The revision is related to our activities because increasing number of foreign workers who are in Japan with the status of residence of 'Technical Intern Training' apply for refugee status. Diet discussions revealed circumstances in which trainees have compelling reasons to apply for refugee status.
    We do not focus on this revision in an introductory lecture, but we renew its content month by month, and introduce refugee issues including the most recent operational change of refugee recognition system for the worse.
    The lecture is suitable not only for people who want to know about refugee issues in general, current situation and issues in Japan, but also for people who have attended a lecture before to update their knowledge.

    • Introductory lecture on refugees: "Let's know more about refugees"
      * Date: Second Saturday of each month
      * Time: 14:00-
      * Venue: Nanmin House, Osaka
      * Cost: 1,500 yen (1,300 yen for RAFIQ members, 1,000 yen for students). Repeaters can attend a lecture at half price.
      * Prior booking is required.

    We offer a GLORRY (Glocal Links of Refugees and RAFIQ Youth) zemi, a workshop on refugee issues, every month, too. The topic of a workshop is 'if you became a refugee, ...', or 'from leaving your country to being detained in an Immigration Bureau in Japan). A workshop is limited to eight participants, but we have had many different people from junior high school students to senior citizens. The workshop is suitable for people who want to approach refugee issues from a different angle.

    • * Date: First Saturday of each month
      * Time: 14:00-
      * Venue: Nanmin House, Osaka
      * Cost: 500 yen
      * Organizer: GLORRY
      * Please make a booking by email to

  3. Revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act

    The House of Councillors enacted a bill that would allow foreign workers to engage in unskilled labor on December 8, 2018. The revision represents a major policy change for Japan.
    We have encountered general issues of foreign residents in Japan through supporting refugees in Kansai regions. We were surprised with and critical of ruing parties' forceful attitude and urgency to enact the legislation with no meaningful discussions.

    Japan ushers in major immigration policy change with revision to boost foreign workforce, December 8, 2018, The Mainichi

  4. Relevant news about refugee issues in Japan

    A Sri Lankan man won a lawsuit against the Japanese government at the Tokyo High Court on December 5. The most recent news on this topic seem to be unavailable in English, but this is to follow up the news below.

    Takuya Kitazawa, Sri Lankan wins unprecedented 2nd case seeking refugee status, July 6, 2018, The Asahi Shimbun.

  5. Your support and donations will be most welcome!

    Recently two refugees were released from two different detention centers, and now they share a room at Nanmin House. RAFIQ support refugees/asylum seekers who are in need and have no other supporters in Japan.

In November 2018
  1. 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!

  2. '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
    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

    Namin DAY flyer Click to PDF flyer

  3. 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)

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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
  1. "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.

  2. 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 a month.
    You can come and read books anytime unless a reference room is occupied.
    Please check the schedule of Nanmin House on RAFIQ website.

  3. Immigration Issues: A RAFIQ member participated in a seminar and a meeting in Nagasaki

    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.

  4. JLNR (Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees) issued a protest statement on August 31st

    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
  1. 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
    • 9-13, 4 cho-me, Higashi-mikuni, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka-city
      Phone: 06-6335-4440
    Cost: 500 yen- (cost will be used to support refugees in Japan)
    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)
    • "If you became a refugee, what would you do? Fleeing out of your country" (2F learning room)
    12:30-13:00 Mini lecture on refugee issues (2F learning room)
    • A repeat lecture of the morning one
    13:30-15:00 Workshop (2)
    • "If you became a refugee, what would you do? Being detained at an immigration bureau" (2F learning room)
    15:00-16:00 Let us listen to refugee's talk (2F shelter)

  2. 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 system"
    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 Immigration Bureau.
    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

  3. Yomiuri Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun recently published articles for which RAFIQ was interviewed

    If you read Japanese, please see the following articles. (August, 30th,2018 The Yomiuri Shimbun) (September,3rd,2018 The Mainichi Shibbun)

In August 2018 No.160
  1. More than 700 petitions requesting the residence of an asylum seeker from Ghana submitted!

    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 and deportation.

    We will keep you informed in case anything would change.

  2. 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.

    2017 2017/
    application 192 99 84
    recognition 1 0 5
    special permission for
    residence on humanitarian
    4 2 3

    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 the applications?
      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.

  3. 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
  1. UNHCR has announced the number of world refugees in 2017 toward the World Refugee Day

    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 year statistics.
    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

  2. 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.

  3. 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
  1. The number of the new refugee applicants amounted to 3,015 from January to March

    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.

  2. "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
    Organizer: GLORRY
    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 eyes
      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.)

  3. "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 organized visit.
    Our findings through the visit include

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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 well.

    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
  1. .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 Committee)

    -- 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 in Japan
    • 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 Nagoya
    • 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

  2. 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 and cafe"
      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 Kinematoron

    • Nanmin Cafe special "My experience of supporting refugees in Finland"
      Date: 19 June ( Tue ) 19:00 -21:00
      Venue: Shuka (Osaka Nakasakicho)

  3. 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:
    1. The number of detainees in the facilities nationwide has increased, and the detention is prolonged
    2. Refugee applicants detained in the facility are increasing nationwide
    3. The number of cases of medical treatment outside the facility is decreasing
    4. 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

  4. 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
  1. 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 non-recognized applicants.
    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 rejected.

    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.

  2. .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 in Japan
    • 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 Nagoya
    • 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

  3. 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 status.

    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.

  4. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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 2008.

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
    • 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
    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 in Japan.

In January 2018 No.153
  1. 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 beautiful illustrations.

    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 Court.

    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.

    RAFIQ coleaders,
    Keiko Tanaka and Yoshie Hirokawa

  2. 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:

  3. 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.


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.