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Japan will provide up to ¥45 billion ($410 million) in yen loans to Turkey to help ease the country’s financial burden of hosting refugees from war-torn Syria, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The financial assistance offered during a meeting in Istanbul between Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu is aimed at improving the living conditions for over 3.6 million Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey, the ministry said.

Turkey has accepted the largest number of Syrian refugees, it said.

Japan has faced criticism over its notoriously low refugee recognition rate. According to the most recent statistics from Japan’s immigration agency, 3,936 applications for refugee status were processed in 2020, of which 47, or roughly 1%, were approved.

The two sides also agreed to set up a panel of high-ranking diplomats to discuss maritime matters such as freedom of navigation, a key issue of concern for Japan in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness in the East China Sea.

They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the peace process involving Israel and the Palestinians, the Japanese ministry said.

Motegi asked for Turkey’s support for resolving the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Motegi is currently on a tour of the Middle East. He has visited Egypt, the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders, Israel and Jordan. He will head to Iran and Qatar before returning home on Tuesday.

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