Explanatory Texts for the JFBA President’s Statement on the Draft Revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in Line with the Revision of the Administrative Appeal Act
There are two steps involved in the proceedings under the refugee recognition system in Japan; the primary proceedings and the objection proceedings. In 2013, the percentage of applicants recognized as refugees in the primary proceedings reached its lowest level since the launch of the system. In fact, the number of refugees recognized nationwide by the primary proceedings was only three in total in 2013. Further, a delay in the handling of cases in the objection proceedings has become a serious problem, and it is not uncommon for cases to take several years to be completed. In light of this situation, a subcommittee of the advisory body to the Minister of Justice (the “Counsel for Immigration Control Policies”) was set up in the fall of 2013, at which substantial discussions on the reform of the refugee recognition system have just commenced (this spring).
Under such situation, a draft revision of the “Administrative Appeal Act” was submitted to the regular Diet session in the spring of 2014.
Since the objection proceedings for refugee recognition are classified as an administrative appeal, the above revision of the Act does necessitate certain revisions in such proceedings. However, it has now been discovered that a major problem exists in the revisions (*1) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the “Immigration Control Act”) to the effect that the extent of exceptions to the guarantee of opportunities provided for the party (i.e. the objector) to state his/her opinions orally has effectively been expanded in the objection proceedings for refugee recognition (*2).
Such amendment to the Immigration Control Act not only fails to conform to the purport of the revision of the “Administrative Appeal Act,” which aimed to realize i) the expansion of the rights of the parties concerned and ii) a guarantee of appropriate procedures for such parties, but it also appears that there is even a possibility of the regression of the rights of refugee applicants to state their opinions orally, which had been guaranteed under the current Immigration Control Act.
Thus, although the JFBA fundamentally agrees to promote the revision of the Administrative Appeals Act itself, it issued the said president’s statement on May 23, 2014, expressing the JFBA’s opposition to the simultaneously revised draft of the Immigration Control Act, due to the existence of such problem which must not be overlooked. In addition, in the statement, the JFBA has once again called on the state to undertake reform of the refugee system only after sufficient consideration has been given by way of, for example, discussions at the Counsel for Immigration Control Policies.
(*1) Article 75, “the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act” of the “Bill Concerning Adjustment, etc. of Related Laws in Line with the Implementation of the Administrative Appeal Act”
(*2) The following has been added as an exceptional circumstance: “In the case that it is admitted that the stating of opinions concerned is inappropriate because it does not contain any grounds as to why a person should become a refugee even if the facts stated in the written statement and other assertions by the petitioner are true, or for other reasons.”
May 23, 2014