The European mass media quite often harshly report on the allegedly very small number of refugees that Japan takes compared to western nations. In the year 2015, for instance, 7,586 people applied for asylum in Japan, and only 27 people received refugee status. Likewise, 10,901 people applied in 2016, and only 28 received refugee status. If we solely focus on these numbers, then the critical reports against Japan are somewhat understandable.
However, what is never reported on is Japan’s system of granting refugee status.
According to a remarkable 2015 newspaper article, a foreigner came to Japan in 2008 with a short stay visa and applied for asylum. There is no limit on the number of times one is allowed to apply for the refugee status in Japan, and the system of granting refugee status has additionally changed since 2010, i.e., one can work now in Japan a mere six months after the application whether or not having received the refugee status. A man misused this system and received money from other foreigners to help them with applying for asylum and finding jobs in Japan. The number of asylum applicants from the same country as the arrested man massively increased between 2010 (109 persons) and 2014 (over 1,000 persons). The total number of applicants is also rapidly increasing: 2,545 persons (2012), 5,000 (2014), 7,586 (2015) and 10,901 (2016).
Japan’s system of granting refugee status allows an unlimited number of applications to receive the refugee status and to remain asylum seekers in Japan even after having been rejected. Therefore, asylum seekers can stay and work in Japan almost for good and financially supported by the Japanese government. Oddly enough, asylum seekers do not have to apply for asylum right after arriving in Japan, but only within six months. This is already quite ridiculous, and the fact that indeed only about 1.4 % of all asylum seekers apply right after entering Japan says a lot about this system.
Brokers who abuse the system of granting refugee status and Japanese employers looking for cheap laborers cause without mentioning this system abuse. However, revising the Japanese laws is the most essential and desirable.