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The number of foreign nationals who stayed in Japan illegally and refused to be deported totaled 3,103 as of the end of 2020, the Immigration Services Agency said Tuesday.

Of them, 248 were in detention facilities and 137 stayed at such facilities for at least one year.

The agency said that 1,938 people, or over 60% of the total deportation evasion cases, have applied to be recognized as a refugee. Of them, 481 applied three times or more.

Under the Japanese immigration law, those who are seeking refugee status cannot be forcefully deported.

There are some people who submit such applications repeatedly to evade deportations, agency officials said.

The agency released the data to highlight what it sees as shortcomings in the current immigration law.

The immigration agency also said that it has taken five of the 12 measures it pledged to implement to improve the conditions of detention facilities after a Sri Lankan woman died while being detained in March.

The five measures include an increase in the number of part-time doctors. The other seven measures will be taken by the end of the current fiscal year ending in March 2022, the agency said.

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