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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Refugee studies forum created

Staff writer

With the number of asylum seekers on the rise, experts on refugee issues have recently launched an interdisciplinary academic organization to promote research in their field while steering public interest.

Unlike the United Kingdom and the United States, where refugee studies is an established discipline, Japanese researchers did not have an organized platform to share their research and information.

According to Hiroshi Homma, professor emeritus of Hosei University and chairman of the Refugee Studies Forum, practical experiences by nongovernment organizations and lawyers supporting people seeking asylum in Japan have made academics realize the need to create a forum and bring their work together to strengthen the field.

"Until now, our work centered on aspects of the (immigration) law, but we need to consider more about refugees from various perspectives, to the extent of understanding what sort of life they lead until their decision (to apply for refugee status) is made. We must consider them as individuals" when studying their cases, Homma said.

Through the new forum, researchers will share their work not just within the academic community but also with policymakers, lawyers and journalists as well as asylum seekers and the public, he said.

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