The Justice Ministry granted refugee status to three Myanmar residents Friday, bringing the total of foreigners given political asylum this year to 11.

Justice Minister Shozaburo Nakamura said in a regular news conference Friday that he has granted the status to three, while withholding their names or nationalities.

However, lawyers supporting their activities told the Japan Times that the three are all men in their 30s and were politically active in Myanmar before coming to Japan in the early 1990s. Akamura also said that from now on he will have the ministry announce the number of people recognized as refugees immediately after the ministry notifies them.

In the previous four years, the ministry accepted only one or two people per year as refugees.

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