• Chikushino, Fukuoka

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In the past two decades, the number of successful asylum seekers to Japan has barely averaged in double figures, while the handful of countries that were rich and humane enough saved some 75,000 refugees from the brutality of their own countries last year alone. Admittedly the world is in recession, but that is no excuse for Japan’s crass disregard of its responsibility as a country that has enjoyed peace and prosperity for nearly half a century. The robust yen makes the paucity of compassion for other countries all the more conspicuous.

Recently a Korean immigrant to the United States lost his family and mother-in-law when a military jet crash-landed on his house while he was at work. Yet he appeared on TV and asked the public to pray for the well-being of the pilot, who survived after ejecting into a nearby sports field. If the same thing had happened with an American aircraft based in Japan, what would the public reaction have been? Nothing less than a lynching party in all likelihood! Even with many Buddhists among them, the Japanese often seem almost devoid of compassion and empathy. Maybe this is one reason why authorities do not want to have to touch asylum seekers.

There have been so many high-profile murders or manslaughter cases in Japan recently, especially of the young and innocent. In every instance the response is as violent as the crime. Usually the survivors say that nothing can bring their loved ones back, and they settle for nothing less than an eye for an eye, even though the perpetrators are often the products of past abuse or some psychological or mental handicap. Rarely is a single word of compassion or iota of empathy apparent; hence the callous capital punishment system in which people are executed before any announcement is made.

Citing lack of funds as a pretext to curtail even the limited asylum-seeker program at present is sickening. Nearly 30 years ago Japan offered to accept up to 10,000 such cases a year. America has long been in the red with its trading partners while Japan has gone from strength to strength; hence the popularity of yen investments in a time of global meltdown.

david wood

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