Asylum claims nearly double

Swamped, the Foreign Ministry is running out of support funds

The number of people seeking asylum in Japan is surging toward a new record, and the government is grappling to deal with the flood, a nonprofit support organization has warned.

Due to the rapid increase, to almost double the number of last year’s applicants, the government’s budget for supporting the refugees, many of whom have no means of support, is close to drying up, the Foreign Ministry admitted Wednesday.

According to the Japan Association for Refugees, 1,450 people had applied for refugee status as of the beginning of this month, after exceeding 1,000 in September.

The previous record for applications is 954, set in 2006.

[Eri] Ishikawa [secretary general of JAR] said the amount of money a refugee is entitled to is even lower than what a Japanese citizen would get from welfare.

“The support should be designed to cover two years, or the government should allow people waiting for their status to work,” she said.

“Without a job or any financial support, these people cannot live.”