Japan might send five United Nations-recognized Kurdish asylum-seekers to a third country after it deported two members of the family back to Turkey last week, Justice Minister Chieko Noono said Tuesday.
At a morning news conference following the day’s Cabinet meeting, the minister said she thought it was “natural” to consider the idea.
The Immigration Bureau deported 49-year-old Ahmet Kazankiran and his son Ramazan, 21, to Turkey on Jan. 18. But on Monday, it extended the provisional releases of the remaining five family members.
Noono said the bureau’s decision Monday was made based on humanitarian grounds, including the fact that there were underage children involved.
In an unusual move later Tuesday, the Justice Ministry made public a written statement sent to the Japan office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, in which it presented its counter-argument to the U.N. body’s criticism of the father and son’s deportation.
On the day the two men were deported, the UNHCR slammed the action as going against Tokyo’s obligations under international law.
In the statement, the ministry says that ever since the Kazankirans were recognized as “mandate refugees” by the UNHCR, it has repeatedly told the body it would be willing to cooperate if the organization was planning to send the family to a third country.
But the UNHCR repeatedly said that having the family resettle in a third country was extremely difficult and only continued to ask the ministry to give the family special residence permits, according to the ministry statement.
The ministry also said that it would “use this opportunity to tell the UNHCR that the ministry is prepared to cooperate if the UNHCR is planning on immediately sending other ‘mandate refugees’ to a third country.”
UNHCR officials declined to comment on the ministry’s statement.
The Kazankirans, for their part, indicated that they have all but given up their hope of living in Japan as refugees.
“We want to move to a third country, not just the five of us, but together with my father and brother,” Kazankiran’s 18-year-old son, Mustafa, said.
“We were recognized as refugees by the U.N., but the Japanese government deported my father and brother,” he told The Japan Times. “We cannot live in a country that does not obey – law.”
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