Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be considering letting down the drawbridges for 200,000 immigrants a year in order to offset Japan’s declining population and boost the economy. At this year’s Davos World Economic Forum, Abe stated that Japan needs more foreigners, but accepting enough to make a difference may prove a nonstarter since the Justice Ministry zealously mans the drawbridges and mines the moats to limit immigration and keep asylum seekers at bay. The public is not unyieldingly opposed to more immigration, or to granting asylum to refugees, but they don’t get to decide.

In considering Abe’s immigration plans, it’s significant that in 2013 the Justice Ministry slammed the door shut for refugees, approving only six asylum seekers’ applications for refugee status out of 3,260 cases — the lowest number in 15 years.

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