On a cold winter’s day in December, an African man sits in a meeting room at the Japan Association for Refugees, a nonprofit organization in Tokyo. The man, whose name and country of origin have been withheld to protect his identity from those who wish him and his family harm, has been seeking refugee status in Japan since 2008.

Stacked with boxes filled with winter clothing, sleeping bags and blankets, the room is a reflection of the difficult lives asylum seekers face in Japan.

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