Japan has a refugee problem, but it decided to deal with that problem forthrightly, and easily, just deny the applications for asylum and make those who stay feel most unwelcome.
Anti-refugee sentiment is rising in Europe and the United States but in Japan those seeking haven from tyranny and war have long faced daunting legal and social gauntlets.
One of the world's wealthiest countries, Japan accepted just 28 refugees in 2016 -- one more than the previous year -- out of the 8,193 applications reviewed by the Immigration Bureau.
Officials defend the low number, saying applicants are mainly from Asian countries seeking access to Japan solely for economic reasons.
"The number of applications from regions which generate lots of refugees, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, is small," said Yasuhiro Hishida, spokesman for the Immigration Bureau.
[Not Welcome: Japan Tough To Crack For Refugees, by Kyoko Hasegawa and Natsuko Fukue, Agence France Press, May 3, 2017]
Ignore the platitudes, Japan gets many refugee applications, but fewer than most, because Japan makes it well known that it will not approve most applications. And it generally makes most foreigners, tourists excluded, feel unwelcome, especially refugees. Why, because the Japanese want to preserve and protect their culture and racial identity preserved from corruption and decline. Visitors are treated well in Japan, but you are expected to behave, and eventually leave. Japanese employers hire few foreigners, except in menial jobs in small companies. Alien white-collar workers in Japanese companies are virtually unheard of. Most alien white-collar workers are temporary workers employed at foreign companies. That is acceptable to the Japanese, because the Japanese don't like to work with foreigners. Most lack the language skills to speak the very difficult Japanese language and just don't fit into the series of obligations that bind employees and employers, both up and down, from the CEO to the lowliest employee.
Importantly, Japan acts to break the fraud chain that involves most claims to persecution. Jan Ting, former Immigration and Naturalization Service refugee official has repeatedly testified that most refugee applications are fraudulent. Refugee and asylums claims are just another manner to immigrate to the United States and other countries, and most refugees act to make their lives, and their children's lives easier.
Assisted by the UN, Liliane was able to claim asylum on arrival in Japan stating that her life was in danger due to tribal conflict back home. It took two years for officials to accept her as a refugee, a period during which she received assistance from the Catholic Church and charities.
But she feels the status brought few benefits. She is no closer to reuniting with her child -- now a teenager, her daughter has repeatedly been denied a permit to even visit.
For Liliane, further education and a stable life, seem out of reach.
She explains: "Japan is a very difficult country for foreigners. The language is really a handicap for us. You need to do absolutely everything to try to speak in Japanese but you don't know where to find free lessons."
"Sometimes I think refugee status has no meaning," she sighs.
But for Nonnon, being awarded refugee status would at least give her a sense of belonging.
She fled military persecution in her native Myanmar 25 years ago but remains in frustrating legal limbo, accepted only on a humanitarian stay visa, which allows for residence and work but traditionally only on annual temporary permits subject to anxiety-riven renewal.
"It's like I have no nationality," said the 47-year-old, who only gave her childhood nickname.
She has tried to forge a life in Japan, she married a man from Myanmar who was also claiming asylum and they have a son and a daughter. But their children are effectively stateless -- not recognised in Myanmar, nor as Japanese citizens.
There is no birth-right citizenship or chain-migration in Japanese law or policy. The Japanese are both smart and patriotic. It is time we emulate our fellow Ice People in the Land of the Rising Sun; patriotic immigration reform and deport illegals!
The Kimiyago, the National Anthem of Japan, sings of the Japanese people lasting 8 thousand generations. This can happen, but France will not last another generation. Charlemagne must be rolling in his grave.