Japan recognizes record high 303 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan

Japan recognized a record high 303 people as refugees last year.

The Immigration Services Agency says 13,823 foreign nationals applied for refugee status in 2023. That marked an increase of more than 10,000 from the previous year, partly due to eased border controls following the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of people granted refugee status increased by 101 from the year before and was the highest since records began in 1982.

By country, 237 refugees were from Afghanistan, where the Taliban seized power in 2021. Twenty-seven were from Myanmar, where clashes between the military and prodemocracy groups are continuing, and six were from Ethiopia.

In addition, 1,005 people were given permission to stay in Japan on humanitarian grounds, although they were not granted refugee status.

As of the end of February, 647 people were recognized under a system that started in December to protect people fleeing from wars.

Justice Minister Koizumi Ryuji said he hopes to make efforts to be able to more securely, swiftly and stably protect people who should be protected.