Japan, a country known for its stern laws and outlook on incoming individuals, plans to revise its policies and legislations amidst recent critiques. International calls for action such as by the UN and foreign leaders have pushed the East Asian country to reconsider its treatment of asylum-seekers. Many of these, partly due to this restrictive immigration system, have faced long-term detentions without resolve; either gaining lawful refugee status or facing extradition.

Rights: AFP (TheJapanTimes)

The comprehensive boundaries of legal access into Japanese borders do not just affect refugees, but it is the refugees’ long-term detentions which have brought upon heavy scrutiny upon this immigration system. As reported by Professor Daisuke Akimoto, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a public set of recommendations for the Japanese government to be adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights¹.

The history of Japan’s modern immigration policies dates back to asylum-seekers from world wars and totalitarian regimes although not granting these refugees citizenship². Although recently, as of April 2019, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe welcomed blue collar foreign workers into Japan under a new Specified Skills visa program³. Nevertheless, this has been yet again a short-term attempt of fixing the unwavering immigration system amidst the country’s mixed reception of this alleged opening of immigration options⁴.

Prof. Akimoto now urges Japanese leaders to live up to their constitution and international human rights law. Akimoto does so by referencing Article 97 of said constitution and Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights. Both reference a need for individuals to be free, even if that means in other countries as refugees. Ultimately, a Japanese revision to their immigration system will follow these rights and fully the concept of non-refoulement; that an individual should not be returned to a country where they will be prosecuted for who they are and their beliefs.

¹ Akimoto, Daisuke. 2021. “Japan’s Changing Immigration and Refuge Policy.” The Diplomat. Japan’s Changing Immigration and Refugee Policy — The Diplomat
² Toshihiro, Menju. 2019. “Japan’s Historic Immigration Reform: A Work in Progress.” Nippon.com https://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a06004/
³ Toshihiro, Menju. 2019. “Japan’s Immigration Policies Put to the Test.” Nippon.com. Japan’s Immigration Policies Put to the Test | Nippon.com
⁴ Pollmann, Mina. 2020. “Is Japan Ready to Welcome Immigrants?” The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/is-japan-ready-to-welcome-immigrants/