OSAKA — The Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau granted refugee status Friday to an Afghan man, a member of the Hazara minority group, because he would face death if deported to Afghanistan, his supporters in Japan said.

Mousa Hesari, 31, became the third Hazara individual officially recognized as a refugee in Japan, according to the international cooperation body of Catholic Osaka archdiocese supporting the former fighter.

The Taliban government has reportedly been persecuting Hazara since 1995.

Hesari was arrested in Afghanistan in 1992 as a Hazara fighter amid civil conflicts in the country. He later escaped to Pakistan and came to Japan in 1997.

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