JAHSS JASID conference plenary



Plenary Panel (16 November 2019)


The plenary panel analyzed the global and Japanese trends on refugees and migrants. It was moderated by Dr. Ai Kihara-Hunt, the University of Tokyo.


First, Dr. Jeff Crisp of Oxford University identified recent global trends in relation to refugees and displaced people, and suggested that these trends created a "global refugee crisis." He argued that the international community had been too slow in addressing this situation. Dr. Crisp explained the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees, while identifying its weaknesses and limitations. He suggested that progress is being made at the operational level, in terms of the way that UNHCR and other actors are meeting the needs of refugees.


Next, Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje of International Organization for Migration spoke about the Global Compact for Migration. She introduced key figures on migration and preceding initiatives of the international community leading to the Global Compact (endorsed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018). She referred to the contents of the Compact focusing on improving cooperation. She explained that its implementation is not static and introduced various networks for its implementation.


Following that, Prof. Saburo Takizawa, former Representative of UNHCR Japan Office, addressed the Japanese context for refugees and migrants. He explained that three drivers exist: economic driver as a pull factor, social driver as a push-back factor, and political driver that balances the two. He made a critical evaluation of Japan’s policy and society that Japan lacks humanity. The presenter then argued that Japan’s new immigration policy shows a paradigm shift.


Commentator Dr. Diana Kartika of the University of Tokyo introduced factors for Singapore’s closed-door policy, and stressed the importance of whole-of-society approach. She highlighted shortcomings in terms of inclusive education for migrants and displaced persons, and stressed the importance of addressing their pathways to employment.


(297 words)

Report by Dr. Ai Kihara-Hunt, the University of Tokyo