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Japan's generous donor status gave it international influence. But at home, one policy has long been out of step. (Illustration by Eric Chow)
The Big Story

Japan's refugee conundrum: open wallet, closed borders

Tokyo's humanitarian pullback reveals waning global ambition

FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- The stench from leather factories, where animal hide is skinned and cured, hangs in the air over Sumida, an industrial neighborhood in northeast Tokyo scattered with nondescript residential complexes. Inside a one-bedroom apartment, 10-year-old Rafael playfully wrestled with two volunteers from Sophia University's Refugee Support Group who had come to deliver donations of supplies and secondhand clothes. Among the gifts were storybooks, which the volunteers dangled just out of the boy's reach.

"These books are in kanji. I don't think you can read kanji yet," one of the volunteers teased, referring to Chinese characters.

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