TOKYO, May 9 — Japan’s lower house of Parliament during a plenary session on Tuesday passed a contentious bill to amend an immigration law allowing authorities to deport foreign nationals who apply for refugee status multiple times, reported Xinhua.
The controversial revision of the immigration law has been heavily criticised by organisations established to support asylum-seekers.
Such entities believe that should the bill pass Parliament’s upper chamber and become enacted into law, it could lead to individuals being repatriated to their home countries where they face persecution.
The Japanese government believes the current system, which does not allow for foreign nationals to be deported while their application for refugee status is being processed, may be abused.
It believes that foreign nationals have been applying for refugee status multiple times in the knowledge that while the status of their application is pending, they cannot be deported from Japan.
The envisioned amendment to the law, set to be debated in the upper chamber of Japan’s bicameral Parliament, will bring an end to the extended detention in immigration facilities for potential refugees, including foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas and have not complied with deportation orders.
Under the amended law, when applying for refugee status for the third time or later, those who fail the process for not being able to show why their status as a refugee should be granted will be repatriated by the Japanese government.
The amended law would, however, grant quasi-refugee status to individuals from conflict-affected regions, allowing them to stay in Japan even if they do not qualify for full refugee status.
Refugee status was given to a record 202 people in Japan in 2022. But this was out of 3,772 applicants, with Japan falling far behind some European countries and the United States who take in tens of thousands of refugees annually.