The U.N. chief for refugee affairs on Wednesday praised Japan for accepting Ukrainian evacuees and requested that Tokyo take in more displaced people from around the world.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi attributed Japan's welcoming of evacuees from war-hit Ukraine to the "sympathy that the Japanese people have felt for Ukraine."

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi speaks at a press conference to conclude his official visit to Japan, at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 2022. (Kyodo)

"This is positive. We need to build on that," Grandi said as he wrapped up a three-day visit to Japan for meetings with Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi, whose ministry oversees the country's immigration policy, and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Currently, 1,986 Ukrainian evacuees were in Japan as of Nov. 1, of whom 1,792 were issued a "designated activities" visa, according to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan.

"Much more must be done, in my opinion, for Japan to become a truly welcoming country for refugees," Grandi said at a news conference in Tokyo, adding, "There have to be better laws, better practices, better systems, better coordination between government departments."

With the total number of displaced people worldwide reaching a record 103 million, Japan should not forget refugee crises in other hotspots such as the coup-hit Myanmar, according to Grandi.

Japan's status as a major developed nation in a globalized world, he said, came with certain humanitarian responsibilities toward greater inclusion for refugees.

"I'm not talking huge numbers, but I am talking more than 60 refugees per year," said Grandi, an Italian national.

Historically, Japan has granted refugee status at a far lower rate than other Group of Seven nations. Its 74 refugee recognitions in 2021 represent a record high total.

The G-7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States plus the European Union.

In a meeting earlier Wednesday, Grandi and Hayashi affirmed cooperation in increasing assistance to refugees and displaced people in the world who are affected by surging global food and energy prices propelled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

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