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Japan passes contentious bill to revise immigration, refugee law

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Tokyo: Japan’s upper house of parliament on Friday passed a contentious bill to amend an immigration and refugee law allowing for authorities to deport foreign nationals who apply for refugee status multiple times.

Despite some opposition parties rejecting the move, the law was enacted with the support of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior Komeito coalition ally, along with other smaller parties.

The controversial revision of the immigration and refugee law has been heavily criticized by organizations here established to support asylum seekers.

Such entities believe that now the revised law has been enacted it could lead to individuals being repatriated to their home countries where they face persecution.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which has called for the system to be overseen by a third-party and not just immigration officials to ensure fairness, attempted to block passage of the bill in the eleventh hour by submitting a censure motion against Justice Minister Ken Saito, who is in charge of the legislation.

The motion was voted down in the upper chamber of Japan’s bicameral parliament on Wednesday, however.

Refugee status was given to a record 202 people in Japan in 2022. But this was out of 3,772 applicants, with Japan falling far behind some European countries and the United States, which take in tens of thousands of refugees annually.

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