• Kyodo

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An official at the Japanese Embassy in the Czech Republic has warned that Japan does not accept asylum seekers and that Gypsies seeking refugee status in Japan risk being thrown in jail, the Czech news agency CTK said Thursday.

“There is no chance of it. They would only spend a huge amount of money on air fares and be disappointed,” the unnamed official said when asked whether Gypsies would be accepted as refugees in Japan, according to CTK.

Embassy officials in Prague said the mission has not been able to identify the official who allegedly made the remarks and the statement does not reflect Japan’s refugee policy.

According to Japanese law, the justice minister has the authority to grant asylum to foreigners.

A spokesman for the Czech news agency said a CTK reporter working on a story about growing numbers of Gypsies seeking asylum got the statement from an embassy official Thursday.

There are reports that a growing number of Gypsies in the Ostrava region in the eastern part of the Czech Republic are trying to leave the country as rising unemployment has led to discrimination against them.

Japan has apparently become a potential target for Gypsy asylum seekers because Czech nationals are allowed to enter Japan without visas under a reciprocal bilateral agreement.

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