The number of asylum seekers to Japan grew 80 percent to a record 19,628 in 2017--but only 20 were accepted.
Immigration is a controversial subject in Japan, even as the population ages and its workforce shrinks. The government in mid-January 2018 limited the right to work only to those Japan regards as bona fide refugees. As a result, the average daily number of applicants for asylum fell by 50 percent in January as compared to December 2017.
"Twenty people is way too few. Judging from our experience in refugee support, I believe more people should be accepted," said Eri Ishikawa, of the Japan Association for Refugees.
Japan accepted 28 people as refugees in 2016.