BANGKOK (Kyodo) Japan will allow the settlement of 32 ethnic minority Myanmar refugees now living in Thailand, sources said.

The 32 people, consisting of six ethnic Karen families, will be the first refugees allowed in under the “third country” refugee resettlement program.

The sources said the refugees are due to travel to Japan after taking a monthlong Japanese-language and culture-acclimatization program at the Mera refugee camp in northeastern Thailand near the Myanmar border.

They were selected from among 50 Myanmar refugees at Mera who have expressed a desire to settle in Japan.

The government plans to take in 90 Myanmar refugees under the resettlement program over the next three years.

If the resettlement goes well, Tokyo will consider accepting more refugees under this system, government officials said.

After arriving in Japan, they are expected to stay in Tokyo for six months to learn the Japanese language and local customs.

There is no decision yet on where in Japan they will eventually live, the sources said.

Camp Mera, the biggest refugee camp in Thailand, is home to about 50,000 Myanmar refugees who have fled their country, mainly due to armed conflicts between the military and Karen National Union rebels.

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