In his lesser-known role as a refugee advocate, Miyavi, aka the samurai guitarist, asks that people look beyond the headline numbers before declaring Japan unwelcoming to asylum-seekers.

Despite Japan taking in only 42 refugees in 2018 — accepting less than 1 percent of applicants — compared to 35,198 for the United States and 16,875 for Canada, Miyavi, whose real name is Takamasa Lee Ishihara, says the bump from the previous year's 20 is encouraging, albeit still underwhelming.

"As a UNHCR ambassador, I have to say talking (about) those numbers is like pulling teeth," says Miyavi, who was chosen as Japan's first Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations refugee agency in November 2017.