Two Kurdish families are staging a sit-in outside the United Nations University in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward over the Justice Ministry's rejection of their applications for refugee status.

The 12 protesters, including a 2-year-old boy born in Japan, have been at the main entrance of the building since Tuesday. They hope to push the Tokyo office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to increase pressure on Japan to improve its rigid refugee policy and treatment of asylum-seekers, which they say is harsh.

They have been seeking refugee status since the mid-1990s, when family members began arriving from Turkey. Both families are seeking court orders to allow them to stay.