The number of refugee applicants to Japan is surging this year, increasing the chances of applications hitting a record level last seen in 2017, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

The current record high is 19,629 applicants, according to government data. The figure topped 11,000 from January through September this year, partly due to Japan's complete lifting of its COVID-19 pandemic border restrictions in April, the sources said.

This year's upswing is also partly due to the occurrence of numerous conflicts across the world, including in Africa, the sources said.