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The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to scrap the 60-day limit on accepting applications for refugee status, government officials said.

The bill to amend the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, compiled by the Justice Ministry, features a new system under which the justice minister would be able to issue asylum seekers with temporary-stay permits should they meet certain criteria.

The Cabinet will soon present the bill to the Diet.

Under the new system, the justice minister would be authorized to grant temporary stays for asylum seekers who apply for refugee status within six months of their arrival — provided they have traveled directly from regions in which they are threatened with persecution and pose no risk of disappearing.

If the bill is passed, the government would halt its current strategy of proceeding simultaneously with refugee application scrutiny and deportation procedures.

The proposed legislation would also authorize the justice minister to grant resident status to immigrants whose refugee applications have been approved and who meet certain criteria.

Moreover, the minister would be authorized to consider issuing special permits for those who do not meet these conditions or whose applications have been rejected, depending on their circumstances.

The legal amendment constitutes a response to criticism of Japan’s apparent reluctance to accept refugees. The current 60-day rule makes it easy for Japan to shut out those seeking refugee status merely on the grounds of application delays.

The Justice Ministry has been working to amend the law since a May incident involving five North Koreans who sought asylum at the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, China.

Japan was slammed over its handling of the case, which saw the five removed forcibly by Chinese police from the consulate grounds and detained for two weeks before being accepted by South Korea.

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