Greetings from the Chair of the Board
Our wish is that refugees who have fled to Japan seeking help are saved, find hope in a new land and are able to live.
The first time I became interested in supporting refugees was the spring of my last year of high school. By coincidence I had heard about the atrocities of the massacre in Rwanda – shaken, I wanted to do something. After that, as I engaged in volunteering work, I discovered that there were refugees who had fled to Japan as well. I still remember the feeling of suddenly finding that something that occurred in a faraway country was an issue that was close to home. I became a founding preparation member of Japan Association for Refugees in 1999, and here I am still today.
Every day, various people fleeing from the Syrian civil war, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Afghanistan’s Taliban, ISIL’s violence, and persecution of homosexuality in Uganda come to our office feeling that their lives are in danger. I feel that the human rights abuses and conflicts are something that is surely connected to Japan, as an issue that is close to us.
For someone who has lost their home, their job, and sometimes their family in their home country to be recognized as a refugee in Japan, to be accepted, and regain a new life is no easy task. There needs to be support for each and every person.
On the other hand, refugees help us recognize the freedom, safety and democracy that exists in Japan that we usually fail to appreciate, taking their existence as granted like air or water.
We act to try and achieve better support “for refugees" and to create a better society "with refugees". I ask for your support as I receive help from many refugees, and many others.
Eri Ishikawa, Chair of the Board, Japan Association for Refugees (JAR)
Eri Ishikawa profile: Born 1976, graduate of Sophia University.
Became increasingly interested in refugee issues after the 1994 civil war in Rwanda and was involved in the founding of JAR while still an undergraduate student. After graduating, became a JAR employee in 2001 after working in the private sector. Immediately afterwards, was responsible for support for refugees from Afghanistan, was involved in the revision of Japan’s first Refugee Recognition Act, and was an organizer behind the sit-ins for Kurdish refugees in front of the UN university and when these same refugees were forcibly deported. From January 2008, became acting Secretary General and continued to work after going on maternity leave twice. Currently overseeing the support work department (in charge of individual support to refugees). Became Chair of the Board in December 2014. Participated in the fifth “Future Leaders Forum Korea-Japan-China” and the second Japan-Korea Future Dialogue as part of the civil society sector. A co-author of "Refugee Protection Seminar for Supporters" (Gendaijinbun-sha Co.), "Foreigners Law and Lawyering" (Gakuyo Shobo), "The Frontier of Refugee and Forcible Movement Research" (Gendaijinbun-sha Co.) and many others. Mother of two.