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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:38 02/19/2008
News Review #433: February 19, 2008

Govt Likely to Take in Myanmar Refugees

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

Govt Likely to Take in Myanmar Refugees
Daily Yomiuri (2/18/2008)

Japan to Take in Dozens of Myanmar Refugees, Yomiuri Says (2/18/2008)


It has been reported in Daily Yomiuri and followed up by Bloomberg (see the links above) that the Japanese government will probably take in a number of Myanmar refugees who are now staying in Thailand. If this happens, it would be the first time the Japanese government admits refugees currently staying in a third country. In the past Japan has virtually refused to accept refugees by imposing a condition that refugees should be assessed whether they are suitable for admission to Japan as refugees after they enter Japan - a risky proposition for poor, uninformed refugees. This time, the government will introduce a system to assess refugees while they are still in a third country, so that Myanmar refugees may travel to Japan with refugee status already approved.

This is certainly a desirable, although belated, move on the part of the Japanese government, who has been criticized as being too strict and uncooperative on the refugee problem in the international community. However, it is also reported that this move is not going to happen at least until next year, because all the related government agencies such as foreign affairs, justice, health, labor and welfare ministries need to get together to discuss necessary changes in rules and regulations in a bottom-up fashion under the present circumstances.

Clearly, what is necessary is political leadership to accelerate this desirable move, and Prime Minister Fukuda must act now to initiate this process in a top-down fashion so that at least some refugees may be admitted to Japan within the next few months as a signal to the international community that Japan is willing to change its long-standing "anti-refugee" policy to a more accommodating one in the near future. It is the political initiative, not actual legal arrangements, that matters in international relations in this age of information and globalization.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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