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    Japan is taking another step to change its xenophobic image:

    Japan plans to accept more refugees in response to growing criticism that the nation gives money to help refugees but shuts its doors when they seek shelter, sources said.

    Japan joined the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981.

    However, the number of people granted official refugee status here pales in comparison with other industrialized nations.

    For example, Japan gave official refugee status to 41 people in 2007. In the same year, 14 nations, including the United States and European countries, accepted about 75,000 refugees from Myanmar, Iraq and other areas.

    Lest any Japanese readers worry that the place will be flooded with foreigners, note that the plan is rather modest: “Japan will become the first Asian nation to introduce the program, and will accept about 30 refugees, possibly people from Myanmar (Burma) who are now in Thailand, in fiscal 2010 at the earliest, the sources said.”

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