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A Nepalese couple seeking political asylum in Japan became the first Nepalese to do so last month, a lawyers group announced Friday.

According to the Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees, an increasing number of Nepalese are seeking refugee status in Japan, and on March 27 the couple became the first Nepalese to be recognized.

K.C. Deepak, a 35-year-old royalist, and his wife saw their home burned down by rival communist party Maoists in 2003 and were seriously injured by an attack the following year, according to their lawyer Nahoko Sasao. They now live in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture.

They arrived in Japan on a tourist visa in 2007 and applied for refugee status in 2010. But the government turned down the application the following year, citing a peace accord struck in Nepal. The couple reapplied, submitting records for medical treatment received as a result of the 2004 assault.

Why they were granted recognition this time has not been disclosed.

According to the Justice Ministry, 1,293 Nepalese applied for refugee status last year, the most from any country.

Although critics say some applicants want the status merely so they can find a job in Japan, Sasao said the Nepalese couple show that not all applicants are fakes.

“Whether (the applicants) are refugees or not should be judged correctly,” she said.

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