Last year, 40 Afghans were ordered to leave Japan, according to Justice Ministry immigration statistics made available Saturday. No Afghans were ordered to leave between 1992 and 2000, according to the statistics.

Of the 40 Afghans, 32 illegally entered the country and the rest stayed beyond the expiration of their visas, ministry officials said. But they noted that none of them has yet been deported because the political situation in Afghanistan remains unstable since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The statistics indicate about 700 Afghans entered Japan annually between 1998 and 2000. But the number decreased to 258 last year.

The number of those applying for a short-stay visa for business sharply dropped. Though 500 to 600 Afghans applied every year for the short-stay visa between 1998 and 2000, only 68 filed an application for the visa last year.

Critics said that because the government is tightening its immigration control on Afghans, including even those seeking refugee status since the terror attacks, the number of illegal entries as well as that of Afghans ordered to leave is increasing, even though there are fewer Afghans coming to Japan.

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