Chinese Falun Gong Members Seek Refugee Status in Japan

Tokyo, 18 May: Several Chinese members of Falun Gong, a sect outlawed in China, on Tuesday [18 May] called on Japanese immigration authorities not to detain them amid fears they will be deported to China where they face possible persecution.

The call by the Falun Gong members and their supporters was made in the wake of moves by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau starting this month to detain Falun Gong followers or instruct them to present themselves to bureau officials – moves seen as a possible precursor to their detention or deportation.

A 31-year-old member who was urged by officials to turn herself in said that given the fact that the group continues to face physical and psychological persecution in China, they are hoping that Japan will allow them to stay from a “humanitarian standpoint.”

According to the followers and supporters, there are about 300 Chinese Falun Gong members in Japan.

So far 29 of them, including seven holding long-term resident status, have requested refugee status, but none have had their requests accepted.

Those given long-term resident status can stay in Japan for one or three years, or a period of time designated by the justice minister, based on special considerations.

On 12 May, two Falun Gong members were detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, they said. Two more members have been ordered to present themselves on Wednesday and it is highly likely that they will be detained.

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