Japan took in about 11,000 Indochinese refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at around the time of the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 as agreed upon at a cabinet meeting. After acceding to the [1951 UN] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981, Japan launched the current refugee status certification system in 1982. The Ministry of Justice has consistently taken a cautious stance on granting asylum to applicants.
Last year, 10,901 people applied for asylum, up 44% from the previous year and the highest figure since 1982. Asylum seekers from Indonesia topped the list of those arriving in Japan last year, followed by people from Nepal and the Philippines.
Only 28 applicants were granted asylum, however. Another 97 people, though not recognized as refugees, were granted residency for humanitarian reasons. Refugee advocacy groups say that the strict standards for screening refugees lie behind the low number of people granted asylum. Some 5,197 people appealed rulings denying asylum in 2016, up 67% from the previous year and the highest ever figure.