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Thirty-three Burmese trainees are seeking refugee status after vanishing last year from their technical jobs in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo,The Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
The Japanese Immigration Bureau suspects a trend of forged refugee papers emerging amongst foreign nationals, after a Nepalese broker was apprehended and deported for enabling other Nepalese foreign workers to take advantage of a loophole in the refugee application system.
Amendments to Japan’s immigration control act were made in March 2010, permitting applicants to work in Japan for six months after application submission. However, applicants have found a loophole in the system and repeatedly resubmitted applications, prolonging their stay in Japan.
A Kamisu-based group, Hasaki Kokusai Koryu Kyodo Kumiai, had accepted 35 Burmese trainees over the period December 2013 to May 2014. Monthly disappearances totalled up to 33 Burmese, aged 22 to 34, who vanished and later applied for refugee status. Most disappeared after payday and were speculated of seeking better job opportunities in Tokyo.
The agency in Rangoonthat sent the trainees to Hasaki Kokusai Koryu Kyodo Kumiai have been unavailable for comment.
Burma accounts for the fourth highest numbers in refugee application in Japan – after Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka – with an estimated 434 people last year.