Statement of GS

Statement: Revision Bill of the Refugee Recognition Law Passed

27 May 2004
Tadayoshi Kusano
General Secretary
  1. The government-sponsored bill on the revision of the Refugee Recognition Law was passed today. Rengo has recognised that the existing refugee recognition system is far behind and has been working for the counterproposal of the Democratic Party of Japan urging for drastic reforms of the system to be adopted. It was so regrettable that the counterproposal seemed difficult to be taken up during the current Diet session and only the government bill with partial amendments was enacted.

  2. Japan remains a position to detain and deports many of foreigners who would be definitely considered as refugees in other industrialised countries. Those who have failed to be recognised as refugees and deported have a great risk to be persecuted in their home countries. Flaws of the existing system that cause the current situation include: 1) opaque yardstick for refugee recognition, 2) the same authorities to deal with both immigration control and refugee recognition, 3) insufficiency of officers with special knowledge of refugees, and 4) an objection to be filed within 7 days after the date of the receipt of the notice.

    The refugee recognition system must be revised drastically on the basis of ensuring its objectivity, transparency, fairness and swiftness.

  3. However, the content of the bill was far from a drastic reform. Improvements were only made so as: 1) to abolish the provision that an application must be submitted within 60 days after the day the person landed in Japan, 2) to create the provisional stay-permit-system and 3) to establish a third party system to conduct examinations on refugees.

  4. Keen questions were made by DPJ members calling for a drastic reform of the system during the current Diet session. As a result, supplementary resolutions were adopted at the Committees of Judicial Affairs of the both Houses that confirmed 9 agreed items in the House of Representatives and 7 items in the House of Councillors. These include:
    1. Family conditions be considered;
    2. The provisional release system for detainees be applied in a flexible manner;
    3. Legislation on support systems be examined;
    4. Objectivity and transparency of proceedings be secured;
    5. Sufficiency of Special Inquiry Officers be secured and education and training opportunities provided.

  5. Rengo greatly appreciates efforts made by the DPJ and will be working even harder for a drastic reform of the system to be realised at the coming review process scheduled to take place in 3 years, as provided by the supplementary resolutions. Furthermore, Rengo is calling for full implementation on improvements promised by the current revision in line with principles of the supplementary resolutions. Simultaneously, Rengo will further extend its refugee-related activities, including supporting Burmese in Japan based on an experience of aid activities for Mr. Khin Maung Latt and his family.