Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Japan

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1997
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Japan, 1 January 1997, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
At the end of 1996, there were some 290 refugees in Japan. They included 15 Vietnamese mandate refugees who were screened out by the government of Japan, 15 refugees of various nationalities whom UNHCR considered mandate refugees, 84 asylum applicants whose cases were pending with UNHCR, and 200 asylum applicants whose cases were pending with the Japanese government.

A total of 171 Vietnamese determined not to be refugees repatriated during the year, of whom 16 repatriated voluntarily and 155 through the Orderly Return Program (ORP). The repatriated Vietnamese included 64 who had arrived in Japan by boat after the cut-off date for Vietnamese to be screened under the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA). At the end of the year, 14 screened-out (determined not to be refugees under the CPA) Vietnamese remained in Japan. They were expected to repatriate to Vietnam either voluntarily or through the ORP.

At the beginning of 1996, there were 101 asylum applications pending with the Japanese government. During 1996, 147 persons applied for asylum in Japan. The Japanese authorities granted only one asylum application in 1996 and rejected 43; six asylum applicants withdrew their applications. At the end of the year, 200 asylum first-instance applications were pending.

Amnesty International has repeatedly criticized Japan's asylum determination process as being difficult to access and overly stringent in its application of procedural rules. For example, in 1991, Japan denied the asylum application of Chinese pro-democracy activist Zhao Nan because he had not filed his application within the required 60 days after his arrival in Japan in 1989. Nan appealed the decision, but the Tokyo High Court rejected his appeal in a September 1996 ruling. According to Human Rights Watch/Asia, Japan has not granted asylum to any Chinese pro-democracy activist since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, although it has permitted 45 such dissidents to remain with special visas that they must renew every six months.

The Japanese government reported that more than 10,800 Indochinese refugees were in Japan. While refugee status does not automatically confer permanent residence, persons granted refugee status are eligible to apply for permanent residence under less strict criteria than other applicants for residence. USCR does not count members of the above group as refugees since they either already have permanent residence or are eligible to apply for it, and therefore are not in need of protection.

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