In Rare Move, Japan Grants Asylum to Soccer Player From Myanmar

TOKYO — Knowledgeable soccer participant from Myanmar who publicly opposed the army junta that staged a coup in his nation received asylum in Japan on Friday, a uncommon improvement in a rustic identified for its notoriously unwelcoming immigration system.

The athlete, Ko Pyae Lyan Aung, got here to Japan with Myanmar’s nationwide group for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Asia this 12 months. While on the sector earlier than the primary match, he flashed a three-fingered salute — a gesture made fashionable by the film “The Hunger Games” and that has turn out to be an indication of resistance in his dwelling nation.

His small protest triggered intense information protection that put him in a nationwide highlight. The gesture additionally introduced concern that his life might be in peril if he returned dwelling. Shortly earlier than boarding a flight again, he requested Japanese immigration brokers at passport management for asylum, playing that he was higher off taking an opportunity on Japan’s system than the forgiveness of the junta, which has brutally crushed the opposition since its Feb. 1 coup.

Japan accepts lower than 1 p.c of asylum seekers every year, and it accredited solely 47 asylum functions final 12 months. The system got here in for blistering criticism after the death of a Sri Lankan migrant in a detention cell. Mr. Pyae Lyan Aung’s case additionally put consideration on the reluctance of the Japanese authorities to take a agency stance in opposition to the junta’s actions in Myanmar. While Japanese officers have denounced the army’s actions, they’ve declined to be part of the United States and different international locations in making use of sanctions. More than 1,000 people have died by the hands of Myanmar’s safety forces, in accordance to a tally saved by a monitoring group that tracks the killings. Thousands are in detention.

Japan has, nevertheless, allowed individuals from Myanmar to apply for visas on a provisional foundation. Mr. Pyae Lyan Aung obtained a certificates on Friday testifying to his asylum standing from the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, he thanked Japan for approving his asylum software and stated that he had discovered a place with a third-tier Japanese soccer membership within the port metropolis of Yokohama and could be on the lookout for further work to assist himself.

“Now that I’ve received residence status, I can live worry free here in Japan,” he stated, including that he had not given up on his dream of going skilled full time.

Mr. Pyae Lyan Aung’s lawyer, Yoshihiro Sorano, praised the Japanese authorities for its resolution, however famous that there have been nonetheless many extra individuals from Myanmar in Japan who may face political persecution in the event that they returned dwelling.

“It’s Japan’s duty to think of a way that Myanmar can build a society that doesn’t produce refugees,” he stated.

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