Ukraine evacuees are eligible for long-term residency in Japan from December 1, says immigration agency
Aid to Those Fleeing Conflict: An Overview
Japan’s Immigration Agency has recently made a significant announcement—a revision to the nation’s immigration law allowing foreigners fleeing conflict zones, such as Ukraine, to be eligible for long-term resident status with a working visa. This change is set to become effective from December 1. The primary aim of this novel system is to facilitate the approval of residence for individuals from conflict zones, who do not meet the specific requirements for refugee approval.
Understanding Refugee Status
The 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees, which Japan is a signatory to, defines a refugee as someone unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a specific social group, or political opinion. However, evacuees from Ukraine and other displaced persons do not meet these criteria, hence, are not eligible for refugee status.
Japan’s Efforts to Accommodate Displaced Persons
Despite not meeting the criteria for refugee status, as of September 20, there were 2,091 Ukrainian evacuees in Japan. Among these, 1,931 were residing in Japan under a “designated activities” visa for a year, granted by the discretion of the justice minister. In other related developments, over 140 Japan-born foreign minors are set to receive special permission to stay in the country. Furthermore, Japan has provided long-term visas to two Russians who are against the Ukraine war.
Controversial Aspects of the Revision
Some aspects of the law have faced criticism, notably the ability for authorities to deport individuals who repeatedly apply for asylum. Critics argue that this could potentially endanger those suffering persecution in their home countries. The law also seeks to address the long-term detention of foreign nationals in Japan, an issue that has been a source of controversy.
Japan’s Immigration History and Challenges
The history of Japan’s immigration and refugee policy dates back to the 1917 Russian Revolution. Japan’s policy has been criticized for being mired in red tape and unnecessarily restrictive measures. Some refugee applicants have been held for prolonged periods in detention centers without judicial oversight, sometimes without adequate access to medical services. This has led to inhumane conditions in detention centers and public outcry over cases such as the death of a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman in an immigration detention center.
Implications of the New Law
The main takeaway from this development is that Japan is adapting its immigration laws to help foreigners from conflict zones. While these individuals may not meet the traditional criteria for refugee status, the new law will allow them to reside and work in Japan, providing them with safety and stability. This marks a significant shift in Japan’s immigration policy, and it will be interesting to track how these changes impact the lives of displaced persons in the years to come.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.