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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 5 - 10  > What role should Japan play in global refugee issue?
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2017 January 5 - 10 [WORLD]
column 

What role should Japan play in global refugee issue?

January 9, 2017
Akahata ‘current’ column

A documentary film that gives full attention to the international refugee crisis will start showing in Japan in February.

“Fuocoammare” or “Fire at Sea” won the Golden Bear Award in the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. Film Director Gianfranco Rosi filmed people on Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa, where a total of 400,000 asylum seekers went to in the past 20 years.

While portraying scenes of ordinary islanders’ life, the film presents another kind of life: refugees arriving on the island one after another after barely escaping with their lives. The only doctor on the island said in the movie that humanity shares a responsibility to save these people. The documentary film depicts the ongoing crisis through a portrayal of life as it exists on the small island.

Japan’s solo public broadcaster, NHK, also aired at the end of 2016 a documentary program on Syrian refugees. The TV crew followed a 15-year-old boy and his family living in Austria over the course of five years. The program shows how the civil war drove the family out of their homeland and tore them apart.

These documentaries convey to viewers the message that those refugees are humans like everyone else and that they could have enjoyed a normal life if they had been born at a peaceful time in their country.

In addition, the documentaries show how other countries’ interference worsened the civil wars that erupted in those countries. Japanese viewers should think again, as a country with the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, what Japan should do to help address this problem as part of its effort for international contribution.

In 2015, Japan received 7,586 asylum applications, but approved only 27. This is the reality of the country, far different from what Prime Minister Abe Shinzo calls “a Japan that shines at the center of the world”.
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