A message from J-CaRM for the WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2023

Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay

Pope Francis chose Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay as the theme of this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Pope in his message for the day says, “The decision to migrate should always be free, yet in many cases, even in our day, it is not. Conflicts, natural disasters, or more simply the impossibility of living a dignified and prosperous life in one’s native land is forcing millions of persons to leave.” The pope points out that while it is natural to protect the rights of migrants it is also our duty to protect the “the right not to emigrate.”

In Japan, a bill to revise the Immigration Control Act that was temporarily abandoned in 2021 was passed in June 2023. It not only fails to improve Japan’s extremely low refugee recognition rate compared with other countries, but also enables the repatriation of asylum seekers and sends refugees back to their home countries despite the risk of persecution. In addition, the law threatens the lives of asylum seekers by making repatriation avoidance a new crime and imposing penalties on those who wish to stay though they cannot return to their home countries.

In line with the Pope’s call, we protest the amendment of the Immigration Control Act and call for a real revision of the law. Let us move together toward a society where the human rights of each individual are protected and the lives of all people are valued.

Catholic Commission of Japan for Migrants, Refugees and People on the Move
Chairperson: Bp. Michiaki Yamanouchi
Bishop in Charge: Bp. Shinzo Moriyama