Japan to accept more refugees in resettlement programme
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Under a resettlement programme of refugees, government intends to double the nation’s annual admission.
The government intends to double the nation’s annual admission under a resettlement program of refugees, who have temporarily fled their home countries for other nations, starting next fiscal year.
Such refugees will be accepted by Japan for their protection.
So far, only refugees from Myanmar have been accepted under the system for third country resettlement (see below).
The government will abolish the restriction on countries of origin for eligible refugees under the program and increase the number accepted from the current number of about 30 annually to about 60.
The government will hold a liaison meeting for the coordination of measures for refugee resettlement in June, and then the Cabinet will approve the new system.
The government introduced the third country resettlement system in fiscal 2010.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommends refugees who want to resettle in Japan, then officials in charge of the issue in the Japanese government decide which refugees to accept after interviewing them in the countries where they currently live.
From fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014, families of Myanmar refugees who lived in Thailand were covered by the system. From fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2019, families of Myanmar refugees who lived in Malaysia were also covered.
So far, Japan has accepted a total of 174 refugees from 44 families, placing them in such locations as Chiba, Saitama and Hiroshima prefectures.
From next fiscal year, the government will include refugees from most Asian countries, except those in Central Asia, regardless of their countries of origin.
The government will also make it possible to accept refugees who are single.
Possibly five years later, the government will consider increasing the number of refugees accepted for resettlement to more than 100 annually.
The policy was approved at a study meeting held last Friday by officials of concerned ministries and agencies, and experts on the issue.
According to the UNHCR, the number of refugees worldwide as of the end of 2017 was 25.4 million, and they were mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.
The Japanese government’s plan to expand the admission of refugees for resettlement is in line with requests from the international community.
However, compared with the United States, Australia and some other countries that accept tens of thousands of refugees annually, the number Japan accepts is low.
■ Third country resettlement
Under the system, refugees are allowed to resettle in third countries to reduce the burden on countries accommodating them that are near areas of conflict. The UNHCR has requested that countries including Japan accept refugees. At the U.N. General Assembly last year, an action agenda included expanding the acceptance of refugees under the resettlement program.