Beyond “Seclusionist” Japan: Evaluating the Free Afghans/Refugee Law Reform Campaign after September 11

Mai Kaneko


Following the events of September 11, Japan renewed its stance against terrorism and aggressively stepped up regulations against aliens including asylum seekers. Responding to the post-September 11 detention of Afghan asylum seekers, citizens of all walks of life joined forces. The Free Afghan Refugees movement not only succeeded in releasing detainees, but also broke new ground by pushing for reform of the Japanese asylum system for the first time in the twenty-one years since the Refugee Recognition Act was enacted. The success and propagation of their activism is a reflection of the maturity attained by the refugee rights movement in Japan, and the increased awareness among citizens about world issues. On an unprecedented scale, citizens are questioning the government’s efforts to maintain a homogeneous social order.

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