Asylum applications of four Nepalese rejected under new refugee recognition laws


Staff Writer

Four Nepalese asylum applicants had their refugee claims rejected in October after entering the country disguised as Buddhist priests and claiming they wanted to visit victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and others, an Immigration Bureau official confirmed Monday.

It was the first rejection under new refugee recognition criteria put into effect in September, the official said.

According to the official, the four rejected applicants were among 12 Nepalese nationals who entered the country via Nagasaki Airport last May.

The applicants wore what appeared to be the clerical garments of Lamaist priests, and claimed to have come to Japan to comfort victims in Fukushima as well as to visit war memorial sites in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the official said.

The disguises were apparently designed to obtain short-stay visas as a stepping stone toward obtaining asylum.

The four applied for refugee status at an Immigration Bureau office in Nagoya around June, saying they could not return home due to economic reasons.

One of the four was rejected and sent to a detention center last October, as he was judged to have a clear intention to work, which is considered an invalid reason to apply for refugee status.

The other three were banned from work in Japan for re-applying for refugee status under the same reason as their previously rejected applications.

According to preliminary Justice Ministry figures released in January, the number of applicants for asylum reached a record 7,586 spanning 69 nationalities in 2015 — with Nepalese representing the largest group with 1,768 people.

The number of such people in Japan has surged dramatically since 2010, when the government made it possible for asylum seekers who hold a valid visa at the time of application to work full time while awaiting the result of their application.

But amid abuse of that system by bogus asylum seekers who continue to work while repeatedly applying, the Justice Ministry adopted a new recognition system in September that includes a policy to ban applicants from working in Japan if they re-apply for refugee status using a previously rejected reason.

The new policy also bans applicants from staying in Japan if their intention to apply is deemed to be other than seeking asylum.

Some asylum seekers are believed to be connected with brokers who advise them on how to acquire visas to enter the country and find labor, said Hiroshi Kimizuka, a director of the Immigration Bureau’s adjudication division.

“In Europe, asylum seekers use smartphones to share information about the easiest borders to break. But the situation in Japan is a little different, as they share information about how to dress (to increase the chance) of acquiring visas,” Kimizuka said.

While he understands that many Nepalese are struggling financially after the disastrous 2015 earthquake there, Kimizuka said accepting such people to work in Japan freely is a different story.

“There are different measures (to help them) from different perspectives. But I doubt accepting them as refugees is an answer,” he said.

  • Jr. Mackeltom

    They should be rejected. Illegal workers are the main cause for social unrest, poor minorities (Often end up in ghettos, like in the U.K), higher crime rates as these people will be targeted by organized crime syndicates.

    Refusing to accept such people is a smart move by Japan. Poor Europe, white supremacy is fading which is good & bad at the same time.

  • Nihondaisuki

    In Europe, leaders decided with their hearts rather than their heads to open the migrant floodgates. Since then, you can see for yourselves what happened. I’m happy to see Japan is taking a sensible approach to helping those in need.

    • Kessek

      What happened?

      • boganus

        you are joking right?

    • Kessek

      What happened?

  • Ahojanen

    Such deceptive moves or fake asylum applications disrupt procedure and delay for real refugees.

  • Toolonggone

    Obviously, there are certain loopholes in Japan’s visa system. I don’t understand why Japan still allows foreign visitors–those who intend to say within a couple of weeks or so– to file for visa application shortly after arrival. If you come to Japan as a temporary visitor, you are supposed to come under non-visa program, equivalent. If your D/O/S gets longer than 90 days, you should obtain the appropriate visa at local Japanese embassy before departure. And then file for change of status once you arrive in Japan.

    • Jr. Mackeltom

      Tourism reasons. Japan is aiming to top in tourism industry. For security reasons Japan issue Visa to everyone.

      No visa equals a lot more trouble. Chinese and South Korea dominates the tourist population. Taiwanese & tourists from the states are also high. Japan unlike other countries use visa to avoid overstaying, identification & as a evidential document for courts.

      You could call that their short term visa also comes hard compared to other countries.

      • Toolonggone

        Visa(including tourist visa) should be issued to those who will receive New Resident Card only. Otherwise, it should be waived for those short-term travelers by creating Visa Waiver Program similar to US ESTA, and disallow them to file for change of status.