Refugee Assistance

Sadako Ogata visited Rwanda UNHCR/P.MOUMPZIS
UNHCR Sadako Ogata visited
Rwanda Refugee Camp in Zaire
in February 1995
The refugee problem has not abated with the end of the Cold War. Japan has actively provided material and personnel assistance as well as financial contributions to solve the refugee problem.

The nature of the refugee problem

While the refugee problem is essentially a humanitarian concern, it also affects the peace and stability of the regions concerned and, eventually, of the world as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative for the international community to take concerted action to address the refugee problem as a global issue by seeking political solutions to conflicts, providing international emergency aid and facilitating rehabilitation and reconstruction in order to encourage voluntary repatriation of refugees.

As a result of ethnic and religious conflicts that have surfaced in a number of regions since the end of the Cold War, the number of refugees soared in the 1990s, with the total refugee population reaching 30 million in 1995. After that, the number of the refugees has been whittled away by such developments as the wind-down of the Indochinese refugee problem and repatriation of a large number of Mozambican and Rwandan refugees, although it still reaches approximately 26 million as of December 1999.

Worldwide Refugee Trends
Worldwide Refugee Trends
Note: The number concerned to UNHCR
Refugee Population by Region
Refugee Population by Region
Note:The figures excluding about 4.1 of Palestinian refugees but include displaced persons in the former Yugoslavia.

Japan's Position on Refugee Assistance

From a humanitarian point of view, refugee assistance is a bounden duty of a member of the international community. It is also consistent with Japan's position to seek permanent peace while cooperating with the international community and to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedom. Thus, Japan is undertaking refugee assistance, regarding it as one of the important pillars of Japan's contribution to world peace and prosperity. The Government of Japan has been actively making financial contributions through multilateral organizations, such as Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), World Food Programme (WFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Organization for Migration (IOM). Japan is the world's second largest donor country to UNHCR, UNRWA, and WFP. Furthermore, Japan has also made efforts to establish a legal and institutional framework for providing relief supplies and dispatching personnel for refugee assistance. For instance, Japan has actively been engaged in sending personnel abroad and extending cooperation in kind on the basis of the International Peace Cooperation Law which was enacted in 1992 and revised in June 1998. Under the revised law, cooperation in kind to international humanitarian relief activities is made possible even if a formal cease-fire has not been established as long as such activities are carried out by appropriate international organizations, such as UNHCR. In addition, Japan is strengthening its assistance to refugees in order to offer various forms of assistance to meet the diverse needs of refugees in affected fields. Japan's Financial
Contribution to UNHCR

Japan's Financial Contribution to UNHCR

Japan's Field Assistance to Refugees

In order to help to solve the refugee problem, the public and private sectors in Japan have provided material and personnel cooperation as well as financial contributions. In this regard, the government places particular emphasis on support for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Support for NGOs

The Government of Japan is striving to bolster Japan's personnel cooperation by providing support for the overseas activities of Japan's NGOs. For instance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides a subsidy system for NGO projects and grant assistance for grass-roots projects, The Ministry also introduced in 1999 a new scheme of grant assistance for Japanese NGOs' emergency relief projects (the so-called "Direct Fund"). Another major scheme is the Postal Savings for International Voluntary Aid operated by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Acceptance of Refugees in Japan

Acceptance of Resettlement of Indochinese refugees (Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia)

The Indochinese refugee problem emerged around 1975 as a result of the collapse of the Saigon Government in South Viet Nam. As a main player on the Asian scene, Japan has accepted Indochinese refugees not only on humanitarian grounds but also from the point of view of contributing to the peace and stability of the Southeast Asian region.

From May 1975 to January 1994, Japan provided temporary asylum to 14,332 people, including 564 children born in Japan. From 1978 to April 2000, it granted resettlement in Japan to 10,592 refugees. To help these refugees adjust themselves to life in Japan, the Government offers Japanese-language training, guidance on social adaptation and customs, and employment introduction services. Such services are available at the International Refugee Assistance Center of Japan.

Recognition of Refugees

In line with its accession to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Japan amended its Immigration Control Order and changed its name to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act under the authority of the Ministry of Justice in 1981. Under the new law, which introduced a refugee recognition system, Japan abides by the obligations required by the convention.

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