TOKYO- Two Syrian asylum seekers on Tuesday lost a bid to overturn a government decision to deny them refugee status, in the first such lawsuit in Japan since civil war erupted in the Middle Eastern state in 2011.
The Tokyo District Court upheld a government ruling made five years ago, that the pair's bid for asylum was not admissible under international refugee law.
"The world understands the Syrian situation - it's getting worse. But the Japanese court hasn't understood that at all," one of the plaintiffs, Joude Youssef, told a news conference.
Speaking in Arabic through a Japanese interpreter, Youssef said he planned to appeal the court's decision.
The second asylum seeker was not at the news conference.
Lawyers said Youssef had the right to stay in Japan, under a humanitarian status that allows residency but not full refugee rights. It was not clear if the second plaintiff would appeal.
Immigration and asylum are sensitive subjects in Japan, where many pride themselves on cultural and ethnic homogeneity even amid a shrinking population and the worst labor shortage since the 1970s.