By: Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
TOKYO, Japan- Japan is receiving criticism after its government released documentation of having accepted only 28 refugees in 2016. This number is especially staggering given the total number of asylum applications received by Japan last year. 10,901 people sought asylum in Japan in 2016, up 44 percent from 2015, when the country accepted 27 individuals. In 2016, alongside the 28 refugees, Japan accepted another 97 applicants for “humanitarian reasons”, though they are not officially recognized by the government as asylum seekers.
Human Rights Watch called Japan’s efforts in granting asylum “abysmal”, urging the country to accept more applicants and further their human rights interests. The low acceptance rate of refugees is negligible in contrast to Europe’s influx in the past two years. Though refugee advocates and human rights organizations are criticizing Japan for their reluctance to welcome more refugees, the country has made efforts contribute to the cause.
Between January and September 2016, Japan was the fourth largest donor to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, contributing $165 billion. Japan has also said it will accept 150 Syrian students and their families under a scholarship program. Critics, however, urge that Japan’s current contributions are not enough in a world where forced migration has become so prevalent.
Immigration is a controversial topic in Japan. The country prides itself on cultural and ethnic homogeneity. Despite the Japan’s aging workforce and shrinking population, it has refused to accept a large influx of unskilled workers. Though forced migration continues, Japan has yet to take a clear political stance on its intentions regarding the issue.
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