May 19, 2021

Japan pulls asylum seeker bill after criticism

Japan’s government has withdrawn a controversial immigration bill after mounting public criticism over debate sparked by the recent death of a Sri Lankan woman held in an immigration detention facility.

The bill would have made it easier to deport failed asylum seekers and given more power to immigration authorities.

Japan has a significantly lower rate of accepting asylum seekers than other developed countries.

The legislation was largely aimed at dealing with the long detention of asylum seekers after their applications failed.

Currently, deportations cannot be enforced while an asylum application is still pending and there is no limit to how many times refugees can renew their applications.

The 33-year old Lankan died in early March in a facility in Nagoya.

According to Japanese media, she went to the police in August 2020 seeking help for domestic violence but was then detained for overstaying her visa.

The case was picked up by activists to sound the alarm over the situation in Japan's immigration detention centres.

The public backlash against the bill comes at a time where popular support for the government is already at a low due to criticism of its sluggish response to the Covid pandemic.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees praised parts of the bill yet said that other aspects raised “very serious concerns”.