First Refugee Roundtable, by Refugees Coordination Committee Japan (RCCJ), UNHCR and UT 26th September 2010 (13:00-15:00) At The University

of Tokyo

Refugee Round Table in Tokyo
Thang Nang Lian Thang (Chairperson of RCCJ)
Honorable Parliamentarian Mr. Nakagawa Masaharu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon. I am delighted to hold this very first refugee round table in Japan. Let me introduce myself. My name is Thang Nang Lian Thang, Chairperson of the Refugees Coordination Committee Japan (RCCJ). I am a Chin, one of the ethnic groups in Burma (Union of Myanmar). First of all, I would like to welcome our guests for attending this historical event. I would also like to express my gratitude to the supporting organizations; UNHCR and the graduate programme on Human Security (HSP) of the University of Tokyo. We have sent our invitation to the Japanese authorities and those who are regularly concerned with refugee issues. Our deep appreciations go to Mr Nakagawa Masaharu, the very first Japanese Member of Parliament who paid a visit to the refugee camp on the Burma-Thai border. Also, I would like to thank the other senior government officials for considering our invitation. We understand that many of them are busy and are not able to attend this symposium. From my perspective, Mr. Nakagawa truly knows the feelings of refugees in Japan and those in the refugee camp. I also appreciate the hard working NGOs, such as PFB, RHQ, JAR, Support21, and FRJ, who are always helpful and supportive to refugees in Japan. Now, we would like to talk about refugees in Japan. We can categorize refugees in Japan into four types; First of all, the Indo-China refugees. The Indo-China refugees have come to Japan from Indo-China countries since 1970s to this day. Secondly, the refugees who are granted to be convention refugees. Then, the third type of refugees is the refugees who are granted Humanitarian Status as a result of refugee application. And at last but not least, the refugees under the new resettlement program, the first of its kind in Asia. Although these four categories are under different regulations, I would like to emphasize that all of us are the same refugees that had to leave our country of origin. There are two reasons why I say we are the same. The first reason is that we are all accepted by the Japanese government / society. The second reason is that we are all in the same boat, facing similar difficulties in our daily lives and we need to work together to overcome those difficulties. We are from different countries with various nationalities, as you can see our panellists and our guests today. Now, we would like to focus on the role of UNHCR and the cooperation between UNHCR and RCCJ. UNHCR does not currently involve in the refugee status determination in Japan, however, we can find a plenty of improvement in the refugee situation because of the efforts made both by the government of Japan and UNHCR. Let me give you an example. UNHCR annually

organize an event on the World Refugee Day, and they invited all the refugees in Japan who are interested in refugee issues to discuss improvement in our situation this year. UNHCR encouraged us to prepare for the event and provided a meeting place every Tuesday, from March to June. Actually, the idea of holding a refugee round table came into our mind at the weekly preparatory meeting for the World Refugee Day. Then, we made up our mind to set up an organization. We named the organization RCCJ. RCCJ are established with the aim of representing refugees in Japan, and giving the opportunity for Japanese people to listen to our voices. The RCCJ committeemen were democratically elected on August 26, 2010. Therefore, we can conclude that we were able to establish our own refugee organization by ourselves thanks to UNHCR, in addition to their usual performance on the World Refugee Day. We could probably say that the year 2010 is the historical and remarkable moment for refugees in Japan. There are three reasons for this. First, RCCJ was organized by the refugees themselves. This is first of its kind in Japan. Second, Japan will accept the resettlement refugees from Burma-Thai border camp as of 28th of September, 2010. Japan will be the first country to accept the resettlement refugees in Asia. On behalf of refugees, I would like to thank the Japanese society for accepting the new resettlement program. Thirdly, as I have already explained, this Refugee Round Table is prepared and organized by the refugees with various nationalities. Thus, the refugees are given the opportunities to discuss the social issues along with the government of Japan and the NGOs. Also, we can say that this refugee round table is the pioneering challenge for us, and it can be a landmark for the refugees’ conference to be held in the near future. Despite the efforts made by the government and by the civil society, the refugee assistance system in Japan still has a room for further development as well as every refugee assistance system in the world. Therefore it is not our intention for today to blame the government and the civil society for such issue. We would like to take part in solving the problems together with the government of Japan, the NGOs, and the Japanese community. Here, we would like to appeal to the Japanese community, “Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Let us contribute our capability to Japan as much as we can, because we are a part of the Japanese community!” So, in this refugee round table, we will discuss how our lives are in Japan. To be more specific, we will discuss what we are facing in education and employment, and we also deal with social issue and adaptation in the following discussion. Among refugees there are many resourceful people. So we would like to build together for prosperity and peace of the Japanese society. The new generation of refugees will be very helpful for the Japan’s international relations. As you can see, our panellists in this table are of different gender, age, ethnicity and religion, with varying duration of stay in Japan. Therefore, we can say that the panellist’s comment represents the true voices of refugees in Japan. We would like to cooperate with the government of Japan and NGOs to solve the social problems in Japan. Again, let me rephrase this. The cooperation among three participants is the key; the government of Japan, NGOs and us, refugee in Japan. Lastly, I am deeply grateful to Mr. Nakagawa Masaharu for taking time out of your busy

schedule and attending this event. We are eager to listen for your encouraging comment after the discussion. I also thank all the NGOs and the audience for coming to gather around this table. I hope that today’s discussion will be meaningful for all of us. Thank you very much for your kind attention. Goseichou, Arigatougozaimashita. Thang Nang Lian Thang Chairperson of RCCJ 090-3048-8680 Refugees Coordination Committee Japan (RCCJ) Chair: Mr. Thang Nang Lian Thang Deputy Chair: Mr. Sai Si Wan Coordinator: Nanyumba Antony Naw Thwai Paw Saw Thomas Gon Aung Yende Charles Mpunga Marip Seng Bu Moderators: Mr. Tin Win & Marip Seng Bu Pennelists: Nanyumba Antony Ma Kyu Kyu Win Mr. Go Ichizen Ms. Cin Lam Lum Mr. Mustafa Colk Mr. Kyaw Kyaw Soe Ms. May Hnin Wai Ms. Maran Ja Hpa Ms. Ha Thi Thanh Nga Ms. Eri Ishikawa Ms. Kuniko Omori