Japan's tiny refugee community urges Tokyo to open doors wider

By REUTERS
November 29, 2015 08:20
1 minute read.

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

YOKOHAMA - Hitoshi Kino, a bespectacled clerical employee at a university near Tokyo, doesn't stand out.

Only a slight Vietnamese accent betrays his past, as he speaks in Japanese about being stranded on a rickety boat in waters off his war-torn homeland in 1980, starving with 32 others and left by pirates with nothing but his underpants.

Kino, who was then Ky Tu Duong, is one of more than 11,000 refugees that Japan took in over the three decades to 2005 in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, under a little-remembered open-door policy which has never been repeated on such a scale.

Now, Kino and other "boat people" who have resettled in Japan believe Tokyo should again open its doors and let in some of today's asylum seekers, including those from Syria, not just for those in distress but for Japan's sake as well

"Japan should open up a little to them to align itself with the international community," Kino, who became a Japanese citizen in mid-1980s, said over Chinese dumplings and stir-fry at a restaurant near his home west of Tokyo.

"It could be just 100, or 50. But it would be better than doing nothing."

Japan took just 11 of 5,000 asylum-seekers last year, or 0.2 percent, the lowest acceptance rate in the club of rich nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In contrast, France took 22 percent and Germany 42 percent.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has offered nearly $2 billion to help other nations manage the flood of refugees from Syria's civil war, but his government has virtually shut the door on those fleeing Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War Two.

This month's attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed in mass shootings and suicide bombings blamed on Islamic State, could make any public discussion of accepting refugees into Japan even more difficult.

The government's reluctance to accept refugees shows that opening up to immigration is still politically unpalatable, despite an alarming shrinkage in the country's population.

Related Content

Breaking news
August 17, 2018
U.S. says no rebuilding funds for Syria until peace talks underway

By REUTERS