A Japanese Christian leader has warned that many refugee status applicants in Japan are living under a constant threat of detention and deportation, and if detained they risk being split from their relatives.
"The greatest problem are detentions that separate family members," Naoko Sato, Secretary General of the Tokyo-based Christian Coalition for Refugees and Migrant Workers, told a 25 July 2010 gathering with refugees in the Japanese capital.
"Fathers and mothers are separated from their children for one or two years," Sato told the meeting, which was organised by the Protestant coalition - a group linked to the ecumenical National Christian Council in Japan.
There were 2,332 recognised refugees in Japan as of January 2010, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
In 2009, 1,388 people applied for refugee status in Japan, of whom 30 were recognised as refugees, the government's immigration bureau announced in February this year.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]