Japan hit over pregnancy clause in Syria refugee programme
A Japanese programme aimed at accepting a small number of refugees from war-torn Syria is under fire for implying that pregnant women are not welcome.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in May that immigration-shy Japan, with a population of about 127 million, would accept up to 150 Syrian students over five years from 2017.
That number compares with vastly higher figures in other countries. Norway, with a population of about 5.1 million, has pledged to accept some 9,000 Syrians. Abe separately pledged at a refugee summit hosted by US President Barack Obama in September that Japan was also prepared to “warmly welcome” family members of the students.
But the Japanese unit of Amnesty International has raised concerns that the programme for Syrians virtually excludes pregnant women.
As advertised, the programme - entitled “Japanese Initiative for the future of Syrian Refugees” - has several requirements for potential applicants.