Efforts will double the number of refugees taken in previously.
The Japanese government has announced that this year it will begin accepting Syrian refugees to the country as exchange students, allowing them to bring along their spouses and children, taking in a total of 300 refugees over a five-year span. In addition to providing them with an allowance for living expenses, the refugee families will also be given the opportunity to settle in the country at the end of their term as exchange students.
Using the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) technical cooperation organization, 20 exchange students per year will be accepted from Syrian refugees who escaped to Jordan and Lebanon. Based on the average Syrian family structure, JICA expects the total number of refugees entering Japan over the next five years to be 300 people. The first 20 students and their families are scheduled to arrive this summer.
Following talks at the 42nd G7 Summit held last summer in Mie Prefecture regarding the refugee situation, Japan began working proactively to address the problem, recruiting Syrian exchange students and selecting schools to accept them.
Japan has notoriously been hesitant to accept a large amount of refugees. In 2015 the country rejected nearly 99 percent of applicants, ultimately accepting only 27 people. However, prospective efforts over the next five years will double that number, taking in an average of 60 refugees per year. Compared to other countries such as Germany, which took in more than one million refugees in 2015, Japan’s efforts may seem like a mere drop in the bucket. Still, it will likely mean the world to the students and their families who will have a chance to rebuild their lives in Japan.