Asylum Seekers in Japan

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At the end of June, a Nigerian man in his 40s died at an immigration detention center in Nagasaki. According to a support group, the man had been on a hunger strike to protest his lengthy confinement, which had continued for more than three years. The detention center has yet to reveal the cause of his death. Although some media outlets reported the man’s death, most didn’t go into detail. When the public hears of foreign nationals being detained, they most likely imagine people caught working without permits, since that is the context in which foreign nationals have been discussed lately. According to a Reuters report published in the Asahi Shimbun, of the approximately 1,500 foreign detainees who were being held as of June 2018, 604 were asylum-seekers whose situation is different from that of visa overstayers and so-called illegal workers. Although there was an increase in the number of asylum applicants Japan accepted in 2018, the actual number — 42 — was still miniscule, since there were 10,493 applications. However, the number of applications was down for the first time in eight years. In January 2018, the Justice Ministry introduced a stricter process to screen out people who are applying for refugee status in order to gain employment. The ministry stressed that the 42 whose applications were approved had been admitted to Japan for humanitarian reasons, since it was determined that their lives would have been in danger had they been forced to return to their home countries. The…

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