ABSTRACT

Burmese in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo represent the largest group of refugees and asylum seekers in Japan. The chapter describes the situation of this group as they grapple with the asylum seeking procedure, work, accommodation, health and education issues, all in a context in which most speak little or no Japanese, while the Japanese population remain largely ignorant about this tiny minority in their midst. While some Government sponsored support is provided, the coping mechanisms and community initiatives of the Burmese themselves are key to their survival. For most, it still remains unclear whether they have a long-term future in Japan or will eventually return to Burma or relocate to some third country.