Japan Sees 3.7-fold Surge in Refugee Status Seekers in 2023

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The building that houses the Immigration Services Agency in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The number of foreigners seeking refugee status in Japan in 2023 surged 3.7-fold from the previous year to 13,823, the second highest on record after 19,629 in 2017, the Immigration Services Agency said Tuesday.

The number of those granted the status was a record 303, up 50%.

The surge reflected an increase in the number of new arrivals after COVID-19 border control measures were lifted, according to the agency.

By nationality, Sri Lankans accounted for the largest share of refugee status seekers at 3,778, up from 502, followed by Turks at 2,406, up from 445, and Pakistanis at 1,062, up from 238.

Of the newly recognized refugees, 237, or the largest group, were from Afghanistan. The figure rose from 147 in 2022. The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban Islamist group took over the country in 2021.

Japan also recognized as refugees 27 people from Myanmar.