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The Osaka District Court granted refugee status Thursday to an ethnic minority Afghan, nullifying the decision by immigration authorities to reject his refugee application, but turned down his demand to reverse the order to deport him.

Presiding Judge Yutaka Kawakami said it was illegal for authorities to reject his application for refugee status because there was “an objective circumstance in which the man held fears about persecution from the Taliban due to ethnic and religious reasons.”

But the court ruled that the deportation order issued to him in March 2002 was legal because the Taliban had collapsed by then and there was thus no reason for him to fear for his life. Kyodo News is withholding the plaintiff’s name due to safety concerns.

According to the court, the man in his 40s, an ethnic Hazara who resides in Gifu, entered Japan in September 1998 and obtained a permit to stay temporarily in the country.

He applied for refugee status in November that year but was rejected, and he was ordered to leave Japan in March 2002, the court said.

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