A record 2,545 foreigners applied for refugee status in Japan in 2012, the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau said Tuesday.
While the figure marked an increase of 678 compared with the previous year, there was a drop in the number of those who were actually granted refugee status, the bureau said.
In 2011, there were 21 foreigners recognized as refugees, but for 2012, the number fell to 18.
Among those who applied, Turkish nationals constituted the largest group, with 423, followed by 368 from Myanmar, 320 from Nepal and 298 from Pakistan, the bureau said.
A bureau official could not provide the exact reason behind the rise in refugee applications.
Meanwhile, the number of foreigners who were denied refugee status but were allowed to stay in Japan on humanitarian grounds totaled 112, the bureau said.
Since Japan began its refugee recognition system in 1982, there have been 14,299 people who applied and 616 who were recognized as refugees.