Lately I’ve noticed an encouraging momentum taking place in Japan. Dialogue seems to be increasing, slightly. Maybe it’s just me. A natural insight that’s evolved as I’ve become more acquainted with refugee circles here in Japan. But in the media too, I’m sure my regular trawls of Japanese sources are starting to yield much more than than they used to. As I’ve already mentioned, dialogue, in all it’s forms, is absolutely central to bettering the circumstances of refugees in this country. Public demonstration, while rare in Japan, does exist and may prove an effective method of distributing the message amongst the public.
On December 7th, a group of around thirty people staged a protest outside the Nagoya Immigration Bureau demanding the fair and humane treatment of refugees and detainees in Japan. At the centre of their demands was the urgent improvement of provisional release conditions which currently excludes visa holders from the right to employment or any social security entitlements, and forces individuals to bear all medical expenses in case of sickness. Provisional release holders include refugees who are awaiting decisions of their application for protection. I personally know of many cases where said refugee applicants have been living in Japan on this visa for as long as ten years. This is a serious deprivation of basic human rights and I am astounded at their ability to survive under such conditions.
A second, nation-wide protest will be staged on December 22nd, simultaneously at immigration facilities across Japan. See here for more information.