Response to the announcement regarding the number of recognized refugees in 2015
Japan's Ministry of Justice has announced on January 23rd that it has granted refugee status to 27 people in 2015. This is an increase compared to 11 in 2014, but it is hardly sufficient. The Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) has witnessed many cases in which asylum seekers who should have been granted refugee status were turned down. For example, a Syrian asylum seeker whose home was attacked after taking active part in anti-government activities, and fled to Japan after being followed repeatedly, was denied refugee status by the Japanese government despite having evidence of leading a demonstration in his/her home country. An Ugandan man who was captured during political activities and tortured to life-threatening levels and narrowly escaped to Japan was also denied refugee status on the basis that the applicant "had insufficient reason to be persecuted" despite having submitted over 300 pages of data as evidence. Both cases were screened in 2015. These are just a few of examples. JAR would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that many asylum seekers who should be granted refugee status are being denied.
The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing the definition of refugee, but this discussion does not involve experts on the issue, such as members of the UNHCR. We hope that the Japanese government will consider including experts from various backgrounds such as members of the UNHCR or non-profit organizations and others to reconsider in a timely manner the process of refugee recognition based on international standards.