Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Globally, there are more than 20 million people seeking refugee status due to war, famine, and domestic oppression. With international pressures mounting, certain countries, like Turkey, have taken in millions. Others, like the United States have been criticized for its limited acceptance rates, taking in nearly 85,000 people in 2016. But that same year, Japan only accepted 28. With such a low acceptance rate, we wanted to know, why doesn’t Japan take in more refugees? Well, although many other countries have embraced multi-culturalism, Japan is an ethnically homogenous nation. Less than two percent of the population was born in a foreign country. Even being born on Japanese soil doesn’t necessarily make someone a citizen. You must have at least one Japanese parent to be granted full citizenship. And even if you do have a Japanese parent, you must renounce any dual-citizenship by the age of 22. In late 2015, the country’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, rejected calls to take on more refugees, saying, they must look after their own people before accepting immigrants. So why does Japan take in any refugees at all? Well, as a signatory to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, Japan is required to assist refugees with documentation and naturalization. But in spite of its obligations under the treaty, the Japanese government has seemingly done all it can to limit the acceptance rate. According to immigration officials, so many applications are denied because some asylum-seekers misrepresent their status and are actually looking for work rather than escaping persecution or fear of their government. Others allegedly do not understand the application process, or describe themselves inaccurately due to the strict and limited definitions used by the government for refugees. Officials say only ten percent of applicants list “risk of persecution by the government” as a reason for their refugee status. But many of these mistakes may stem from the fact that there are thick packets of documentation to submit in order to be considered for asylum, and all of these documents must be submitted in Japanese. Moreover, Japan is a geographically isolated island nation, making it less likely that refugees will be able to travel to the country in the first place. Most refugees from the Middle East tend to settle in neighboring countries like Turkey, and in most cases are unable to make it to Japan without a visa and a plane ticket. And while Japan doesn’t take in very many refugees, it does donate millions to the UN’s Refugee Agency. In 2013, it was the second largest donor, giving more than $250 million dollars, and as of 2016 it still ranks in the top three countries, after the United States and Germany. Most recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged nearly $3 billion dollars over the following three years to aid refugees globally. But Japan may actually need refugees and migrants more than it thinks. The country’s population is aging and its workforce is shrinking, as many as 83% of hiring managers have trouble filling employment positions. To tackle this, without calling it immigration, Japan has temporarily allowed unskilled workers, as well as foreign students from countries like Syria. But this opening of doors is against the backdrop of cultural fears that foreigners will cause social unrest and erode the national Japanese identity. Like many other Asian cultures, Japan stresses a system of self-reliance, with the implication that Japanese people should help other Japanese people first, and that foreign countries and cultures should take care of their own. A recent poll found that only 18% of the country believes refugee integration is a good idea, while 46% oppose it. But in an increasingly globalized world, with interconnected economies, societies, and conflicts, it may not be possible to maintain such an isolated position. While Japan is reticent to accept refugees, other countries have taken in millions just over the past few years. To find out which countries are hosting the most, and why they are willing to do it, check out this video right here. Thanks for watching Seeker Daily, don’t forget to like and subscribe!