Japanese Civil Society Groups Are Helping Support Refugee Attitude
Japan is famous for its unfriendly attitude towards immigration. Although the door has been gradually opened to professionals but the Japanese government isn’t willing to accept migrants with low skills other than temporary work visas. And it is very reluctant to accept refugees.
The refugee crisis of 2015 hasn’t changed Japan’s closed-door policy. While nations like those in the United States, Canada and Venezuela have taken in hundreds of thousands of asylum applicants, Japan has announced it will accept only 150 Syrian students and their families over the next five years. Although this is a significant move for Japan however, it is way too little.
A Different Attitude
There is a gap in Japan’s indifferent attitude to accepting refugees, and its inability to provide adequate assistance as well as its active involvement beyond its borders has been criticized by media, NGOs and academics.
Japan is among the largest contributors of funds to the UN refugee agency. the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a number of initiatives that included the donation of US$2.8 billion for refugees and host communities during the summit of leaders held in New York in September 2016. Despite this huge commitment to the country’s finances, its acceptance rate for refugees is extremely low (less than 1percent of all requests in the year 2015).
Out of 3,898 asylum requests process in Japan this year Only 27 of them were recognize as refugees. The figure also included asylum seekers who sought to appeal the decision of the government not to admit their claims in the past. Add in the 79 who received special status to remain in Japan for humanitarian reasons, and the total comes to more than 100.
Refugees can work with no restrictions. But asylum seekers can’t work if they applied for asylum on the territory of Japan legally.
Asylum seekers who apply following the expiration of their visas expire are transport in an immigration detention facility. They may be release on a temporary basis or permitted to remain in the outside of the centre. However, they will not be able to work.
Attitude Civil Society Is A Key Player
Given the institution-related restrictions facing asylum applicants, Japanese civil society and businesses are slowly working to assist refugees in gaining acceptance, and assist refugees in establishing their own businesses.
The non-profit organization based in Tokyo, Entrepreneurship Support Program for Refugee Empowerment (ESPRE), is the only public interest foundation that government has granted permission to help refugees access microfinance. Through a partnership together with Japan Association for Refugees and Social Venture Partners Tokyo, ESPRE can provide loans of up to one million yen (about $8800 USD) to refugees and offers additional assistance with business-related advice.
The kinds of ventures ESPRE has supported include food service to trading enterprises. For example one of them is an Burmese former lecturer at a university. Who was grant refugee status in Japan and has reside in Japan for more than 20 years, has open the first Myanmar establishment in Tokyo with the help of ESPRE in 2012.
And Vietnamese refugee Minami Masakazu who emigrated from her home in the teen years. He was also assist to establish a renowned Vietnamese eatery in Tokyo. ESPRE also assisted an Pakistani businessman who runs an exporting company that trades used Japanese automobiles. The company was initially target at the market in Mozambique and has since expand into other markets.
Corporates are also embracing the concept of helping refugees through the entrepreneurship. Uber Japan, for instance began an initiative in 2014 to encourage its customers to make donations. Towards ESPRE and an accountancy that is anonymous offers pro bono assistance to refugees who are entrepreneurs. According the director of ESPRE, Masaru Yoshiyama.
Every Kind Of Benefit
Researchers and academics who work with refugees have highlighted the positive impacts of entrepreneurship for refugees and host societies. In the beginning it helps refugees. It’s very easy for people to feel lost and feel unsure in the event that they are dependent on government assistance. They can restore their independence and confidence by establishing their own business. Making money and participating in the community they live in as a volunteer.
Organizations like ESPRE do not only assist them in financing projects. And reducing the language barrier for which Japan known for. To help with this, ESPRE holds English-language orientation sessions. Where business advisors and accountants provide guidance on the best ways to manage a company in Japan.
It is also widely recognize that refugees can benefit local economies by creating jobs. For instance, the Myanmar restaurateur in Tokyo is an example. The owner of a restaurant in Tokyo is currently hiring refugees and college students. Although this hasn’t yet occurred in Japan refugees, entrepreneurs in other countries typically employ locals.
In addition, refugees’ participation in self-generated economic activity can alter. The perception of people of them as considered a “societal burden”. This reduces the negative perception of the public toward refugees.