Important Things to Know About Japan’s Refugee Policy

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  • According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who is living outside of one’s country in fear of being persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, social or political affiliation and is unable to return home. The Government Of Japan issues refugee status to those people who live in constant fear on the basis of humanitarian grounds. Here are some things you need to know about the refugee policy of Japan.

    Procedure for application

    A refugee in Japan can enjoy benefits including healthcare, education and is allowed to work and stay for a long term. The requirements for Permanent Residence are also relaxed for refugees. He or she will not be sent back to his or her home country or to a country of risk. However, the refugee is expected to have a rightful residence and is not violating any rules by providing false information or overstaying without proper residence status. It takes about 6 months for gaining refugee status after application. Here is the procedure for obtaining asylum:

    1. The application for refugee status should be made within six months of your landing in Japan. It’s better to file the application within the residence duration granted to you. You can request for an extension of stay in case your application is taking too long.

    2. Then, after your application is accepted, you have to face a one on one interview with a Refugee Inquirer from the Immigration Bureau once or in some cases, several times. You should not bring friends or lawyers to the interview. You are requested to give a signature at the end of each interview.

    3. If your application is rejected, you can appeal to Ministry of Justice by filing an appeal application. You should appeal within 7 days of your application result.

    4. Then, you can request for an another interview of oral hearing with Refugee Examination Counselors. The hearing might last for two hours and is usually done only once. After the hearing, you will be notified about the decision.

    5. Even if the appeal is rejected, you can later ask for a judicial review within 6 months of your learning of dismissal. The court will charge some basic fees in order to process the case.

    Refugee Recognition

    refugees airport

    A refugee should have a ‘Proof of Persecution’ in order to be recognized by Immigration Bureau. Unstable reasons like vague freedom of expression violations cannot be taken into account. A solid threat of violence or danger should be present in the case. Attacks on you or your family, arrests, disappearance, confiscation of property, deprivation of employment and education, torture, ethnic cleansing, forced conversion etc usually stand as valid cases. The more evidence the refugee has, the more likely it is that he or she can be recognized.

    Most of the applications to Japan come from Asian countries and not many come from the Middle East or Africa. Japan is located in the far east and its majority non-English speaking population are the main reasons for its low popularity among refugees. Here are the top 6 countries which are seeking asylum in Japan as per the 2013 census:

    1. Turkey
    2. Nepal
    3. Myanmar
    4. Sri Lanka
    5. Pakistan
    6. India

    refugee unhcr

    Japan is a global human rights custodian. It is the second largest donor to UNHCR after the United States. It is, in fact, the only Asian country to join the UNHCR resettlement program. For more information, contact the Japan Association for Refugees or the Immigration Bureau of Japan.

    Here are some documents to find more relevant information:

    To Those Who Wish to Apply for Refugee Status

    Ministry of Justice Applications (in several languages) 

    General Information

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