Japan 1) What are the procedures for claiming refugee status in Japan; 2) What are the criteria used in making the determination; 3) How many Chinese (PRC) students have applied for and have been granted refugee status; 4) Have there been any articles on the plight of Chinese students studying in Japan; 5) Are there press reports regarding student (Chinese and Japanese) demonstrations in Japan in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo; 6) Are there any press reports regarding 300 Chinese (PRC) State Security Bureau agents having been sent to Japan to check up on Chinese students there; 7) What has the Japanese government done towards Chinese students in Japan who do not want to return because of the events of June of this year (is there any special program for refugee claimants, have visas been extended, etc)? [JPN2206]

1) Before the Vietnamese Boat People crisis at the end of the 1970s, Japan did not have any legislation concerning political asylum, although the country had been determining refugee status to Indo-Chinese through diverse administrative arrangements since 1975 [ Saito C. 1988, "Japan's Asylum Policy", Refugees (UNHCR), no. 50, February 1984: 37.]. In 1981-1982, the Japanese Government acceded to the 1967 UN protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and enacted an Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act [ Saito, 1988: 37.
UNHCR, 1989, Note on Procedures for the Determination of Refugee Status Under International Instruments, A/AC.96/INF.152/Rev.8, 12 September 1989, New York: UNHCR: 18.].

Under the new law (Law no. 86), an asylum seeker submits an application to the Minister of Justice no later than 60 days after arrival in Japan [ Saito, 1988: 38.]. Interviews are subsequently conducted at a Regional Immigration Bureau within a period of a few months to two years [ Saito, 1988: 38.].

If a claim is rejected, the claimant can appeal to the court for a review of the case [ UNHCR, 1989: 18.]. If refugee status is granted, a Convention travel document is issued to the refugee [ Saito, 1988: 38.]. Please find attached a copy of Japanese Government documents giving details of the procedures of refugee application and determination in Japan [ Government of Japan, Ministry of Justice, 1981, Immigration-Control and Refugee-Recognition Act, Cabinet Order No.319 of 1981, Provisional translation, Tokyo: Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice.
Government of Japan, Ministry of Justice, n.d. A Guide to the Procedure for Recognition of Refugee Status, Tokyo: Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice.].

Japan introduced a new screening mechanism on 13 September 1989 [ "Briefing on the Introduction of a Screening Mechanism for Boat People by Mr. Toshio Tsunozaki, director of the Human Rights and Refugee Division, United Nations Bureau", 11 September 1989.]. Although the new mechanism mainly concerns Vietnamese boat people and Chinese citizens coming illegally by boat to Japan, Japanese refugee policy has been alleged to be based on nationality (favouring the Indochinese) rather than political opinions [ Briefing by Mr. Tsunozaki: 2.]. The Japanese Ministry of Justice has declared that all Chinese coming to Japan are economic migrants [ Briefing by Mr. Tsunozaki: 3.], and Japanese officials merely "hope" that the treatment of Chinese citizens deported from Japan will not be "too harsh" [ Briefing by Mr. Tsunozaki: 3, 5.].
2) The determination is made for each individual case on the basis of the application and interview records [ Telephone conversation with a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Ottawa, 29 September 1989.]. A few articles are attached, that indicate the general condition of refugees and immigrants in Japan, particularly the lack of experience with refugees, the ethnic homogeneity in Japan and the fact that the Japanese contribution to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is mostly financial [ Iijima M. 1984, "Integration of Indochinese Refugees", Refugees, no. 6, June 1984: 18-19.
Yang M. 1984, "Fund-raising in Japan", Refugees, no. 11, November 1984: 15-16.
Yang M. 1985, "Africa Fever Sweeps Japan", Refugees, no. 16, April 1985: 34-35.
"Japan Seeks to Control Influx of Vietnam Refugees", The Globe and Mail, 30 August 1989: A11.
Terry E. 1988, "Japanese Find Eager Migrants Hard to Replace", The Toronto Star, 19 October 1988.
Haberman C. 1987, "Once Again, Tokyo's in Trouble Over Fingerprinting of Aliens", New York Times, 23 January 1987: A3.].
3) According to UNHCR, no Chinese students have applied for refugee status in Japan between January and April 1989, and only one has applied since May 1989; the application was still under consideration as of 6 October 1989 [ Letter from the Centre for Documentation on Refugees (CDR) of the UNHCR in Geneva, dated 6 October 1989.]. The total number of students from the People's Republic of China studying in Japan at the end of June 1989 was 7500 [ Telephone conversation with a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Ottawa, 29 September 1989.]. Two reports mention renewed Chinese immigration to Japan; Asiaweek of 14 July 1989 indicates that immigration officials in Tokyo have noted a sharp increase in Chinese nationals applying for passports through Japan, while Facts on File of 23 June 1989 notes the defection of Chinese diplomats stationed in Japan ["China: Casting the Net Wide", Asiaweek, 15(28), 14 July 1989: 24-25.
"Diplomats Seek Asylum", Facts on File: Weekly World News Digest, 49(2535), 23 June 1989: 450.]. Other statistics available on Chinese asylum seekers concern the "Chinese Boat People" who started to leave China by boat earlier this year, but for reasons allegedly unrelated to the student protests [ "Chinese Boat People Deported, Detained on Charges", Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 8 August 1989: 6-7-8.].
4) No articles other than those attached were found at the Documentation Centre of the IRB in Ottawa.
5) Only one source indicated protests by Chinese students in Tokyo over the meeting between the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers on 9 August 1989 [ "Chinese Students Protest Ministerial Meeting", Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 9 August 1989.]. UNHCR reports four major demonstrations in Tokyo between May and June 1989, but knows of none after the crackdown on student dissidents in Beijing at the beginning of June 1989 [ Letter from the Centre for Documentation on Refugees (CDR) of the UNHCR in Geneva, dated 6 October 1989. ].
6) Because of the secret character of China's State Security Bureau activities, no information is rendered public on the alleged harassment of Chinese students in Japan by secret Chinese agents sent there to that effect. Reports of Chinese secret agents (generally diplomatic staff) spying on Chinese students in Canada, however, has been reported in the Canadian press this summer [ Bray A. 1989, "Embassy Call Raises Chinese Students' Spy Fears", Winnipeg Free Press, 8 July 1989.
"Chinese Students Need Clear Advise", Globe and Mail, 23 June 1989.
"Students in a Vise", Globe and Mail, 27 June 1989.
"Private Hearings Offered Chinese", Globe and Mail, 27 June 1989.].
7) No development of programmes or special provisions to facilitate the stay of Chinese students in Japan has been reported in the documentation consulted since 4 June 1989. A spokesperson at the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, indicated that there was a visa extension after 4 June 1989 for Chinese refugees coming to Japan [ Telephone conversation of 29 September 1989 with a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa.]. UNHCR added that visas were extended on a case by case basis and that extension periods ranged from 2 weeks to 3 months [ Letter from the Centre for Documentation on Refugees (CDR) of the UNHCR in Geneva, dated 6 October 1989. ]. The low tone of Japanese reaction to its neighbour's internal policy, however, indicates that the Government of Japan does not intend to jeopardize its economic interests in China by condemning the crackdown on student protests too strongly [ "Aftermaths: Anxious Neighbours", Asiaweek, 15(25), 23 June 1989: 31.
"China: Distress Under Western Eyes", Asiaweek, 15(30), 28 July 1989: 24.
"Mitsuzuka Views Foreign Policy Issues", Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 3 August 1989: 15-16.].