Assignment On Refugees Protection in Japan


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Assignment On Refugees Protection in Japan

  1. 1. Southeast University Dept. of Law & Justice Course Title: International Refugee Law Course Code: LLBH 4212 Date of Submission: 24-04-2012 Assignment OnRefugees Protection in Japan
  2. 2. What is Refugee “Protection”?Refugees Persons who are not protected by their own country, while they are(or they may become) victims of serious human rights violations.A refugee is someone who is in need of protection and would be at risk if theyreturned home. In everyday English, the word „refugee‟ is often used to meanpeople who have fled danger which could arise from war, political persecution,famine, economic crisis or natural disaster.Under international law, however, the word refugee has a very precise meaning.Governments and the United Nations decide whether a person is a refugee statususing the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees. According to theconvention, a refugee is someone who:“…owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or politicalopinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to suchfear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…” A person is only classified as a refugee when they are outside their own country. An individual may still be a refugee even if nothing bad has happened if they are likely to be persecuted in the future. It is not always countries persecuting individuals but groups within countries. An individual becomes a refugee if their country can‟t protect them. Mostly individual states decide whether an individual is a refugee or not and whether they should receive protection based on the UN Convention. Even people who are at risk of persecution may not be recognised as refugees if they have committed serious crimes such as a war crime.*What is refugee “protection”?  To reinstate and protect human rights of refugees by country of asylum as a surrogate for the country of origin  The Principle of Non-Refoulement (Article 33, 1951Convention) Protection covers the whole spectrum of a refugee‟s life in Japan, including entry to integration.
  3. 3. Who Protects Refugees?  Government has primary responsibility to protect refugees  Citizens and the civil society also play an important role  UNHCR cooperates with government and civil society to ensure refuge protection.  And maintaining the rule of Convention 1951 & 1967 protocol.UNHCR:History:  The League of Nations had named Norwegian, of Nansen, to the post of High Commissioner in 1921.  UNHCR succeeded the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.  At first, UNHCR mandate was limited and extended by every five year.Purpose:  UNHCR has two basic and closely related aims – to protect refugees and to seek ways to help them restart their lives in a normal environment.  UNHCR promotes international refugee agreements and monitors government compliance with international refugee law.  UNHCR seeks long-term or so-called durable solutions, repatriation, local integration and resettlement.UNHCR in Japan:  Japan� State Party� whole asylum system (including RSD Procedure)  Immigration Bureau of Ministry of Justice conducts refugee status determination  UNHCR Role: Supervision of implementation of 1951 ConventionArticle 35: 1. The Contracting States undertake to co-operate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and shall in particular facilitate its duty of supervising the application of the provisions of this Convention. 2. Supervision of the implementation of 1951 Convention:  To support the main actors, i.e. the government of Japan and the civil society, in order to achieve the common objective of protecting refugees
  4. 4.  To carry out macro and micro level activities under the division of labour and cooperation with various partners, including the government, NGOs, lawyers and scholars.What is the role of UNHCR? o For government� o Adviser, consultant, partner o For NGOs� o Coordinator, resource person, partner o For refugees and asylum seekers� o Supporter, advocatesProviding legal/policy advice and Country of Information:  Immigration Bureau, Minister of Justice  CourtsTraining and capacity building activities:  Training for the Immigration Bureau Officers (RSD officers etc)  Provision of lectures on refugee lawAssistance to individual asylum-seekers/refugees:  Provision of legal/social counseling (Outsourced to NGOs)  Integration assistance in cooperation with universities and enterprises.Public information activities:  Enhancing understanding of Japanese public regarding admission of refugees in Japanese SocietyUNHCR and NGOs:Assistance to individual refugees by UNHCR through funding/cooperating withimplementing partners  Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) :provides legal/social Counseling  Protection of refugees‟ rights by providing comprehensive support including legal/social counseling (rights-based approach)  Registration on behalf of UNHCR: Identify needs and gaps, which  UNHCR makes use of in its advice to relevant counterparts.
  5. 5.  Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA):Legal Counseling/Representation  International Social Services, Japan Counseling mainly for persons in detention centers/persons with illness  Support 21: Japanese language classes  Forum for Refugees Japan (FRJ): NGO MechanismImplementation of the convention covers the whole process, notonly “RSD”  Fair and efficient asylum procedure  Reception conditions during RSD procedure  RSD criteria  Integration of refugees (solutions)Fair and Efficient Asylum Procedure in Japan: a) Respect for the principle of non-Refoulement - Prohibition of expulsion to the country of origin or another countryArticle 33 (1), 1951 ConventionNo Contracting State shall expel or return (" refuter ") a refugee in any mannerwhatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would bethreatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of aparticular social group or political opinion.b) Access to asylum:  Access to procedure  Access to due process  Access to information (e.g. How to apply for the refugee states)  Access to UNHCRc) Access to legal counseling:Objective of Legal Counseling:To help asylum seekers and refugees understand their own role in the asylumprocess and to enhance the possibility for refugees to be recognizedIn many States, legal counseling is provided with government funding.There is no such programme in Japan funded by the government.UNHCR‟s implementing partners provide legal counseling.
  6. 6. d) Independent appeal• Due process requires an independent body to examine and decide at the appeallevel• Introduction of Refugee Examination Counselors by Revision of the law in2004•Will Refugee Examination Counselor System functions as an independentappeal?Reception Conditions for Asylum-Seekers:Access to means of livelihood, housing and medical care  Asylum-seekers should be given with opportunities to work during RSD procedure  Housing and basic medical assistance should be provided to asylum seekers  Assistance should be extended to those in judicial reviewAlternatives to detention  Government should seek alternatives to detention.The RSD Criteria:  Do immigration officers properly determine refugee status in accordance with the international standards?  Work of immigration officers: registration, interview, providing interpreters  Immigration bureau staff receives trainings on RSD. It would be useful to expand such training opportunities.  Issues relating to interpretation of definition of persecution, standard/burden of proof, credibility assessment (use of benefit of the doubt)Complementary forms of protection  Japan has granted the humanitarian status to individuals  What are the criteria of granting such a status?Japan’s Refugee Policy:  Looking back on Japan‟s Refugee Policy immediately after World War II is meaningful not only from the chronological aspect, but also from the standpoint of its formation, which has been influenced by the new Japanese Constitution. The significance lies in the relation between the spirit of refugee protection and principles of the Constitution. The
  7. 7. protection of refugees, which is declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, has been closely related to this principle of respect for human rights. It is necessary to discuss further details of relevance between refugee protection and respect for human rights. Refugee protection can be defined as a safeguard for those who fled into other countries because they have been in imminent danger of being persecuted or deprived of freedom in their homelands. They are entitled to access protection outside their countries where no obligation exits. Although refugee protection and human rights protection are not exactly the same, their similarities and connections can help the human rights protection to come to completion. Using this point, it is understandable that refugee protection is linked with the principle of human rights protection connected to the new Japanese Constitution enacted after World War II. Therefore, it is right to assert that a refugee policy or system, which had never been stipulated in the new Japanese Constitution, should have been legitimatized in order to protect refugees. However, in reality, the principle regarding the protection of refugees was not ever explicated, nor was the policy proposed. In general, Japanese people have been the least likely to be aware of refugee issues. Only a small number of Japanese showed interest in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. The indifference toward refugee affairs continued in Japanese society until May 1975, when the arrival of Vietnamese asylum seekers was reported. Today, the Japanese attitude toward refugee protection still remains passive, which has affected the implementation of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugee within Japan. Historically, the government of Japan has taken a relatively restricted approach to the protection of refugees. In fact, the government refused to accept Russian asylum seekers who fled the Russian Revolution of 1917 and who were under Russian refugee protection policy, the first international coordination on refugee affairs. Moreover, at the end of the 1930s, many Jewish people left their countries because of oppression from the Nazi regime. Some of them, who were safeguarded by the international protection policy, escaped to Japan, but their application for refugee status was denied. A few exceptions were asylum seekers given refugee status in Japan because of a governmental plot: the government wanted financial aid from Jewish financial cliques for invading foreign lands to promote Japanese colonization. It was extremely rare, but some political activists from Asian countries received refugee status from the Emperor of Japan by his imperial prerogative
  8. 8. Resettlement in Japan: Bringing Refugees to Better Protectionand Integration:Japan has played a leadership role in the region and around the world in thehumanitarian field. It has been offering refugees favorable protection conditionsand a lasting solution. When the government of Japan established theresettlement pilot project in December 2008, the first of its kind in Asia, it tookanother considerable step towards providing refugees residing in Mae Larefugee camp in Thailand with a good chance at living in safety and dignity.While resettlement is a tool of refugee protection and durable solution, itinvolves several intricate and complex phases. In each phase, there is a range ofactivities conducted by resettlement countries, UNHCR and other stakeholdersincluding international organizations, local governments and civil societygroups. Each of the activities may involve tasks and issues that require properand delicate handling, and often the cooperation of several of the stakeholders.In general, the phases can be consolidated into two main phases, pre-departurefrom the country of asylum and post arrival to the country of resettlement. Therelevant activities in phase one range from profiling refugees in need ofresettlement, matching them with the most appropriate resettlement country, agovernment led refugee selection process, medical check, reorientation programwhile in the county of asylum. In the country of resettlement, the relevantactivities in phase two range from cultural orientation, language training,housing and material/non material assistance programs for midterm, andeducation, job referrals and naturalization for long term.Several ministries of the government of Japan, UNHCR, IOM and otherstakeholders have closely collaborated for over 2 years to establish a good startfor this pilot project. Within a few weeks, the first group (around 30) will arriveto Japan filled with aspirations for a more secure life. There are alsoexpectations that the refugees contribute to and integrate well in the Japanesesociety. This symposium will offer a good opportunity for governmental andnon-governmental stakeholders, including refugees, to discuss the challengesahead and build on lessons learnt from similar previous experiences. As thesymposium aims to be as comprehensively informative as possible, two panelswill focus on the most pertinent issues relating to the pre-departure and postarrival phases.
  9. 9. The resettlement process will undoubtedly have a concomitant positive impacton Japan but like with most traditional and recent “resettlement” countries, itwill face a number of challenges. There are many questions that will beaddressed in this symposium. Among other factors, how these challenges areaddressed and managed will correlate to the success of the process. You arecordially invited to attend and participate in the open debate that thissymposium attempts to launchAcceptance of Refugees by Japan:The Government of Japan decided to accept Indo-Chinese refugees forsettlement in Japan in 1978. The Coordination Council for Indo-ChineseRefugees and Displaced Persons was set up at the Cabinet Secretariat to moveahead on measures and policies for promotion of settlement. In November 1979,the government entrusted the work of settlement to the Foundation for theWelfare and Education of the Asian People, and the Refugee AssistanceHeadquarters (RHQ) was set up under the Foundation.Japan had accepted more than 11,000 Indo-Chinese refugees. This acceptanceof Indo-Chinese refugees was ended in March 2006.Japan acceded to theConvention relating to the Status of Refugees, and established a refugeerecognition system in 1982. The Ministry of Justice examines each applicationfor refugee status in the light of the Refugee Convention. So far more than 500people have been recognized as refugees (Convention Refugees) by the Ministerof Justice. In August 2002, it was decided with cabinet approval to grantassistance for settlement to Convention refugees as well. It was also decidedthat the work for settlement of the Convention Refugees was to be entrusted tothe Foundation for the Welfare and Education of the Asian People.Integration of Refugees (solutions):Is it possible for refugees to integrate into the host society?  Local Integration is one of the durable solutions to refugee problem.  Civil society plays an important role to integrate refugees into local society, not only government and UNHCR.  Other solutions  Voluntary repatriation  Resettlement
  10. 10. Refugees International Japan (RIJ): is an independent, not-for-profitorganization dedicated to raising funds to assist refugees who have beendisplaced as a result of war and conflict. Operating out of Tokyo, we are staffedby volunteers from the Japanese and International communities. RIJ channelsproject funds through experienced organizations already working with refugeesout in the field, ensuring that assistance goes quickly and directly to where it ismost needed.We provide hope to refugees by funding projects that rebuild lives and restorehuman dignity in a sustainable and community-orientated way. RIJ operatesaccording to a strict code of accountability and transparency, so that you can seefor yourself exactly where, when and how your donation is making a difference.Refugees International Japan is supporting community activities for those whohave been affected following the devastating earthquake and tsunami inTohoku.The Revised Refugee Recognition System:The Immigration-Control and Refugee-Recognition Act was revised in thenational Diet in 2004, and with the goal to provide appropriate and expeditedprotection to refugees through more equitable procedures, the following pointsin the system of refugee recognition were reviewed and the revised provisionstook effect on May 16, 2005.Establishment of a system for granting permission for provisional stay:This is a system for illegal foreign residents who have filed applications forrecognition of refugee status. Individuals meeting several requirements will begranted permission for provisional stay by the Immigration Bureau. The periodof the provisional stay is three months, and those who wish for an extension ofthe provisional stay must apply at the Immigration Bureau. Deportationprocedures are suspended during this time, and refugee recognition proceduresare carried out. Since this system is available to illegal foreign residents, suchindividuals cannot work even if they are granted permission for provisionalstay.
  11. 11. Stabilization of the legal status of illegal foreign residents who have beenrecognized as refugees:With regard to illegal foreign residents who have filed an application forrecognition of refugee status, a judgment will be made simultaneously onwhether they will be recognized as refugees and on whether they will be grantedpermission to stay in Japan. If illegal foreign residents recognized as refugeessatisfy certain requirements, they will uniformly be granted permission forprovisional stay, and even if they do not satisfy the requirements, they may begranted special permission for stay at the discretion of the Minister of Justice.Review of the appeal systemFor the purpose of increasing equity and neutrality in the procedures for refugeerecognition, a system of refugee examination counselors was established, inwhich the counselors participate in the procedures for the examination ofappeals as a third party. When an applicant for refugee recognition is deniedrefugee status, and files an objection to the decision, the Minister of Justice willmake a decision on objections concerning the denial of recognition of refugeestatus after hearing the opinions of the refugee examination counselors. Refugeeexamination counselors will be able to take an active role in the procedures forexamination of appeals by observing the procedures in which the petitioner orintervener presents his or her opinions, hearing their opinions directly andasking them questions.Japans Refugee Policy Exposed:At the Japanese consulate in Shenyang, China, guards in Chinese military attiredragged away asylum seekers from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea(North Korea). This shocking scene was broadcast throughout the world. Therehas been mounting criticism of the statement by Mr. ANAMI, Japansambassador to China, that the asylum seekers should be "turned away," andagainst the actions of the vice consul who happened to be present. The issue hashighlighted the fact that Japans overseas diplomatic representatives are legallyunprepared to handle an incursion of people seeking protection, and PrimeMinister Koizumi Junichiro has suggested that the system be reconsidered. Yet the actions of those involved are precisely an outcome of Japans refugeepolicy, which is based on the principle that "we may send money out, but wewill not let people in." Ever since Japan signed the International Convention onRefugees twenty-one years ago due to foreign pressure, it has managed throughskillful use of honne (true sentiment) and tatemae (outward stance) to avoidconfronting the refugee problem.
  12. 12. One bit of proof: at an international conference on aid for the reconstruction ofAfghanistan, Japan made appeals for great outlays of funds, while at home itcontinued to detain Afghans who had come to Japan seeking protection.Furthermore, due to American demands (as one might expect), a specialcategory was established for refugees from Indochina and ten thousand peoplewere admitted. However, asylum seekers of different nationalities have beenstrenuously excluded. This is illustrated by the case of Chinese democracyactivists at the time of the Tiananmen incident. Out of consideration for bilateralrelations, they were not recognized as refugees but merely given specialpermission to stay in Japan. The use of this approach, which leaves asylumseekers in a "gray zone", continues to this day. Precisely because the world hasushered in the century of human rights, the Japanese governments doublestandards on refugees are being exposed. I would like to report on issues thatbecame apparent while covering events in Japan and Afghanistan.Conclusion:Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as "any personwho…owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or politicalopinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to suchfear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, nothaving a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitualresidence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, isunwilling to return to it."As of December 31, 2007, there are approximately 31.7 million refugeesincluding internally displaced persons and "persons of concern" to the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In addition, many otherpeople have been forced to evacuate their homes and it is said there are nowmore than 50 million refugees and internally displaced persons. Variouscountries including Japan, under the leadership of UNHCR have been carryingout protections and support activities for them internationally.  The responsibility of states: to provide security and solutions  The role of UNHCR: to cooperate with the government and NGOs in Japan for the common objective to protect refugees  The role of civil society: to support, facilitate, advocate and assist