The government will review its current policy of receiving refugees only from Myanmar under the third-country resettlement program led by the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, while promoting their settlement not only in Tokyo and surrounding areas but in other parts of the country, according to the sources.
In 2017, the country accepted only 20 of about 20,000 people who applied for refugee status and allowed 45 to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds, according to the Justice Ministry.
In the former case, the Japanese government examines each application for refugee status, while in the latter the UNHCR seeks applicants and the Japanese side selects the refugees it will accept for resettlement.
The refugees accepted under the current resettlement program stay for about six months in Tokyo to learn the Japanese language and then move to areas where they will settle.
The envisioned review of the program is expected to accelerate refugee resettlement in rural areas, with a Foreign Ministry official saying the government is “actively studying” the possibility of selecting areas other than the Tokyo metropolitan region.