The history of conflict in Syria (Japanese Edition)

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  1. Syrian Scholars Initiative
  2. Japan takes no Syrian refugees yet despite giving $200m to help fight Isis
  3. Syrian Scholars Initiative

Since the Syrian refugee crisis in , the Japanese media has conducted opinion polls on this issue. According to an Asahi Shimbun poll conducted in December , 24 per cent favoured accepting more refugees and 58 per cent answered opposed further admission of refugees. These are the two newspapers with the highest circulation with 9 million and 6. Therefore, this section focuses on the Asahi. Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil war in , Asahi Shimbun has reported extensively on the Syrian refugees and published comments of or interviews with executive officers of international organizations.

It was not until November , however, that the first mention of admission of Syrian refugees to Japan appeared in the newspaper. In addition, a feature article about Japan and refugees was published on 23 November Looking at the opinions supporting the admission of more refugees, most include comments concerning one or more of these points:. For example, we can see a concern for the reputation of Japan from the following articles. An editorial on 23 November stated,. Japan has prohibited itself from exercising military actions abroad. This reputation is important capital in Japanese diplomacy.

We expect Japan to fulfil its role as a peace state which values humanitarian diplomacy. An editorial on 23 September , which was published after the Japanese government announced the admission of Syrian people as students, also stated,. The government should broaden the range of engagement, open the doors to the world and aim to be a state which can fulfil its responsibilities Asahi Shimbun f.

It cannot be said that Japan fulfils its international responsibility. There are articles which show concern about the Japanese response in comparison with other countries. On the other hand, looking at the opinions against the admission of refugees, we can see comments concerning one or several of these points:. Due to the language barrier, it is expected that they cannot get a job they want […]. There are Japanese people who do not have money and a place to live. If refugees come to Japan, where would they live?

Can Japan afford to accept refugees? There are also concerns expressed concerning security. How can we check the identity of refugees? As Asahi Shimbun is considered to be liberal, not surprisingly the majority opinions favour the admission of refugees. However, at the same time, opinions from readers opposed to the admission of refugees also appear. As illustrated by the absence of discussion in Yomiuri Shimbun , the admission of Syrian refugees to Japan has not been discussed much elsewhere in the Japanese media. It can be said that the Asahi is the place where the admission of refugees to Japan has been discussed most actively.

To supplement the discussion in newspapers, I would like to examine other publications. One of the articles was published in Sekai World , whose tone is progressive liberal. She raises issues related to refugee acceptance procedure in the Basic Plan for Immigration Control 5th Edition released in September The plan, however, also mentions restrictive measures such as sorting out applications based on reasons clearly inconsistent with the Refugee Convention and setting restrictions on the resubmission of an application.

Although the main point of her argument is institutional issues, similar to the newspapers, we can see words concerning the status of Japan in international society. The author is Sono Ayako, a conservative writer. While not precluding the admission of refugees in the future, she states that it is too early for Japan to accept refugees.

In short, she insists that Japan does not know how to accept foreign people because of its historical or geographical background. Although the issues related to the Syrian Civil War and the subsequent refugee crisis have been discussed since around in the Diet and its committees, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs only highlighted the financial assistance Japan had pledged and did not mention the admission of refugees.

In addition, other members of the Diet did not ask the government about the admission of refugees. It was not until 27 November in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives that the admission of refugees was discussed in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis for the first time. In many cases, while an ordinary member of parliament made remarks which pointed out the shortcomings of Japanese refugee policy or urged the admission of refugees, Cabinet Ministers supported the non-admission of refugees.

What was most obvious from discussions in the Diet and its committees was the desire to maintain a good reputation in international society. He pointed out that the Japanese refugee recognition system was one of the strictest among developed countries. He pointed out the hardships Syrian students studying in Japan faced.

He stated that they were not allowed to bring their families because their families were already outside Syria and the Japanese government does not allow entry from a third country. In addition, their scholarships from the Syrian government had been stopped, but they could not get any support in Japan and were not allowed to work in Japan either. He stated,. On the other hand, what we were told by host countries of refugees was that, if Japan would accept refugees as students each year and educate them to become leaders of their home countries, media all over the world would highly value Japanese humanitarian assistance and report the Japanese commitment widely.

Japan has been doing as many things as possible, but, unfortunately, it is impossible for Japan to accept 10, or 20, refugees. Rather than that, it is important to address the root issues which cause the flow of refugees, offering substantial assistance to neighbouring countries […] it is true that Japanese contributions in those fields are already appreciated in international society. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants. Even though he was asked about the admission of refugees, he answered about demographic issues in Japan. He continued,.

Japan would like to contribute by changing the conditions that give rise to refugees. The cause of this tragedy is the fear of violence and terrorism, and terror of poverty. The world must cooperate in order for them to find a way to escape poverty. His remarks show his intention to avoid discussion about the admission of refugees in Japan and to highlight Japanese financial assistance.

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In their remarks, Ministers also highlight the fact that Syrian people have been allowed to stay in Japan based on humanitarian considerations although they are not granted refugee status. In , people were allowed to stay based on humanitarian considerations and 26 of them are Syrians.

In , as of the end of November, 98 people including 12 Syrians were allowed to stay in Japan. In the same way, the Minister of Justice Iwaki Mitsuhide, when asked about the admission of Syrian refugees in the Budget Committee on 25 February , stated that,. Syrian applicants for refugee status are allowed to stay in Japan even if they are not recognized as a refugee. We are accepting them as emergency cases based on humanitarian considerations. In short, as we can see from these remarks, the Abe government considers that they are protecting Syrian people even if they are not granting them refugee status.

This rationale can be found in the remarks of ordinary members of parliament. On the other hand, government ministers highlighted the view that the way to utilize Japanese strength is not to accept refugees but to offer financial assistance. Before analysing the discourses above, I would like to mention Islamophobia in Japan.

In European countries, the rise of Islamophobia has been noted amid the influx of refugees from Muslim countries. According to a survey conducted in , Islamophobia is on the rise in fields including education, employment, media, politics, the justice system and the Internet in European countries. Public opposition to further migration from predominantly Muslim countries is very high.

In the middle of , however, when European countries were experiencing the influx of refugees, one illustration of a Syrian refugee girl drawn by a Japanese artist caused controversy. An illustration drawn by Japanese Manga artist Hasumi Toshiko was posted on her official Facebook account on 10 September The illustration was probably traced from a photo of a Syrian girl at a refugee settlement in Lebanon taken by a Canadian photographer.

Although Facebook Japan did not remove the illustration, saying that it did not violate community standards, Hasumi deleted the illustration herself, saying that it had caused too much trouble for the photographer who took the original photo. The book features her illustrations which anti-racism campaigners called racist cartoons. It also includes the illustration of the Syrian girl though her appearance has been changed so that she does not look like the girl in the original photo taken by the Canadian photographer.

For example, it has received reviews on an online book store, Amazon. Does this mean the rise of Islamophobia in Japan by either the government or the general public? It is true that Muslim community in Japan has been kept under surveillance. In , confidential documents of the Metropolitan Police Department were leaked online, which revealed that the police had compiled personal information about Muslims.

Why Russia Is So Involved With The Syrian Civil War

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on 31 May after two appeals. While the decision ordered the Tokyo government to pay a total of 90 million yen in compensation to the plaintiffs, it upheld the ruling by lower courts that the surveillance was necessary. I consider, however, that this surveillance does not necessarily mean that Islamophobia is spreading in Japanese society. There was a concern that these two events might affect Japanese attitude to Muslims.

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Syrian Scholars Initiative

In some Mosques in Japan, the number of non-Muslim Japanese who want to visit the Mosques to learn about Islam has even increased after those incidents. One possible explanation for why Islamophobia is not so explicit in Japan is that the number of Muslims is relatively small compared with European countries.

There is no official data about the number of Muslims, but Tanada, estimates that they number around , to , Since Islamophobia in Japan has hardly been discussed, it is hard to discern its effect on Japanese responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. However, some studies point to a rise of xenophobic movements since the mid s in Japan. In the same way, if the outflow of Muslim refugees continues, these xenophobic movements may develop connotations of Islamophobia. The Japanese government actually has accepted more refugees than public opinion would dictate. One possible explanation is that opinion polls show negative attitudes regarding the admission of refugees.

As shown above, the majority of respondents to opinion polls opposed the admission of refugees. However, low public support cannot fully explain why the Japanese government takes a certain policy. The Japanese government also adopted the Refugee convention in In addition, low public support cannot explain why the Japanese government decided to accept Syrian students but not refugees. We need to focus on other factors to explain the Japanese responses. As noted above, based on the analysis of Japanese discourse, rationales that promote the admission of refugees can be classified as follows.

I consider that the rationales that promote the admission of refugees can best be explained by state identity. As we saw in media texts and proceedings of the Diet and its committees, there is a shared idea that Japan is a developed country, so Japan needs to act accordingly. This idea has led to the desire to be valued highly by other countries and not to fall behind other developed countries.

These remarks in the discussion on the admission of Syrian refugees show how much Japanese politicians care about how Japan is valued by other countries. Regarding the rationales preventing the admission of refugees, we note these rationales from newspaper and Diet proceedings. As mentioned above, this identity is not based on reality.

According to a survey by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry and Kyodo news, one in 29 babies born in Japan in had at least one non-Japanese parent. For example, the rationale that Japan does not know how to accept foreign people because of its historical or geographical background is based on the idea that Japan is a homogeneous nation which has not accepted foreigners. In addition, Japanese people believe that Japan has not accepted a large number of people from other countries, and they also think that the Japanese strength lies in offering financial assistance.

The idea that Japan cannot afford to accept refugees is also related to national identity since the financial argument is debateable. Japan pledged a huge amount of financial assistance to countries that accepted refugees. If Japan accepted more refugees instead of offering a large amount of financial assistance, the argument for accepting refugees goes, more money could be spent on domestic issues such as support for poor people.

In addition, in the long term, refugees resettled in Japan may pay more in tax than the financial support they receive.

Japan takes no Syrian refugees yet despite giving $200m to help fight Isis

Regarding the difficulty of adaptation for foreigners, it may have a certain legitimacy. Japan accepted more than 10, Indochinese refugees in the early s, but some of them faced difficulties adapting to Japanese society especially in terms of finding employment. They consider that they can make use of their Vietnamese proficiency and living experiences in Japan to boost their career.

To be more precise, it is the result of the Japanese government pursuing desires congruent with its state identity without damaging its national identity. The Japanese government wants to fulfil its obligations as a developed country to maintain its state identity, but it tried to do this without damaging its exclusionary national identity. Thus, the government chose to accept Syrian people as students and not refugees. They are allowed to enter Japan on student visas, so the Japanese government accepts them as temporary residents.

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Syrian Scholars Initiative

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