Japan has often been criticized for closing its doors to asylum seekers. Following the high-profile incident in May at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, China, in which Japanese officials let Chinese police take a family of North Korean asylum seekers out of the compound, the government has tried to reform its refugee-recognition system. But little attention is paid to the problems many of the Indochinese boat people who settled in Japan over a decade ago still face. This is the first of four parts on the hardships confronting long-term settlers, their offspring and today's asylum seekers.

In July, the Tokyo District Court sentenced a 34-year-old Vietnamese man to 20 years in prison for fatally stabbing two Japanese homeless men in Tokyo last year.

Vu Van Hoa was one of thousands of boat people who crossed the East China Sea and landed in Japan in 1989. But 12 years after his dangerous ocean voyage, he was jobless, with a criminal record and living on a Tokyo street.