Figures show record number of asylum seekers challenged rejected applications last year

Kyodo

A record 3,120 people lodged protests last year against the government’s rejection of their applications for asylum here, while only 27 people — or 0.4 percent of applicants — were granted asylum, according to figures released Saturday by the Justice Ministry.

The ministry attributed the increase in the number of those who lodged protests and who wanted their cases to be reconsidered — up by 587 from a year earlier — to the rise in the overall number of asylum seekers.

Japan received applications for refugee status from a record 7,586 people in 2015. The number of applicants and of those granted asylum in the final data announced Saturday were unchanged from preliminary figures released in January.

The ministry said applications for asylum, even from people who are not eligible to apply for refugee status, has steadily risen since a 2010 reform allowing asylum seekers to work in Japan once their applications have been under consideration for longer than six months.

At the end of 2015, 13,831 people were awaiting decisions on their application for refugee status.

Among those given refugee status was one person who risked being persecuted back home due to past participation in political activities deemed illegal by the home government, the ministry said.

The ministry refused to grant asylum to an applicant who claimed to be in danger of being killed upon returning home due to religious persecution. The ministry said it did not see an imminent threat to the applicant’s life since the home government was taking steps to resolve the struggle between religious sects there.

Among those whose applications were rejected, the largest portion — accounting for about 29 percent — were filed by people who feared being harmed by political opponents, followed by around 23 percent who cited debt or other financial problems.