Japanese unit of Amnesty International has raised concerns that the programme for Syrians virtually excluded pregnant women.
Tokyo: A Japanese programme aimed at accepting a small number of refugees from Syria promised on Wednesday to remove language from documents which implied that pregnant women were not welcome to apply.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in May that immigration-shy Japan, with a population of at least 127 million, would accept up to 150 Syrian students over five years from 2017. Mr 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 excluded pregnant women.
As advertised, the programme — titled “Japanese Initiative for the future of Syrian Refugees” — has several requirements for applicants. Originally, it included the line, “Pregnant applicants are not recommended to apply”, according to Amnesty and the government’s Japan International Cooperation Agency, which manages the programme.
Later, it was changed to read, “Before the application, pregnant applicants are advised to consider carefully potential risk of health and life issues of mother and foetus”.
JICA spokesman Satoshi Murakami, however, said late on Wednesday that the organisation would remove the clause as it was creating “misunderstanding”.