Life, Asia - Pacific

Refugee applications slump in Japan

Iraqi man sues Japanese government for rejecting his asylum application says he faces persecution back home

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 21.05.2019
Refugee applications slump in Japan


Japan’s strict asylum laws have restricted the number of refugees seeking citizenship in the country, local news said on Tuesday.

The Japanese Ministry of Justice has revealed that the number of applicants seeking refugee status fell about 47% to 10,493 in 2018, according to daily Japan Today.

Some 42 applicants successfully received citizenship last year -- 20 more than in 2017.

'Unjust' treatment of Iraqi asylum applicant

The details came after an unnamed Iraqi man, 29, sued the Japanese government for the withdrawal of a 2017 decision rejecting his application for refugee status.

Refusing to reveal his identity, the man said at a press conference he filed the suit with the Osaka District Court. He currently lives in Kyoto and has a part-time job.

The refugee applicant claimed that he would face persecution in Iraq as a son of a Baath Party-member.

The Baath Party was led by Iraqi former President Saddam Hussein.

"It is unjust not to grant my application," he asserted.

The man had first come to Japan in January 2016, but returned home soon after three months when his visa expired returning to Japan in 2017 and applying for refugee status.

He mentioned in his application before the court that an anti-Saddam faction persecuted his father after the former president fell from power in 2003, and that the man's uncle was killed in the street.

Narrating his ordeal as to how he was kidnapped and held for half a year by an armed organization in 2012 during which he was tortured with iron bars and knives, the man said the Japanese Immigration Bureau turned down his application saying there was no persecution threat.

"I can't go back to Iraq. I want to stay safe in Japan," he said during the press conference in Osaka.

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