Japan PM Abe says Japan must solve its own problems before accepting any Syrian refugees

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe speaking during the 70th session General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on Sept 29, 2015.
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe speaking during the 70th session General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on Sept 29, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday (Sept 30) that Japan needed to improve conditions for its own people, including women and the elderly, before accepting any refugees from Syria.

The Premier brushed off any suggestion that Japan - which accepted just 11 of about 5,000 asylum seekers last year - would take in any refugees from the Syria conflict, the world's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

Asked at a news conference after announcing at the United Nations General Assembly that Japan would provide US$1.56 billion (S$2.23 billion) of assistance for those affected by conflict in Syria and Iraq whether Japan would join other countries in accepting refugees, Mr Abe replied: "It is an issue of demography. I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants."

He added: "Japan would like to contribute by changing the conditions that give rise to refugees."

Mr Abe told the assembly that Japan would boost its assistance for refugees and internally displaced people from Syria and Iraq this year to about US$810 million, three times the amount provided last year.

He added that Japan would also provide about US$750 million for peace building efforts across the Middle East and Africa.