Two Syrian asylum seekers on Tuesday lost a bid to overturn a government decision to deny them refugee status in the first such lawsuit in Japan since civil war erupted in the Middle Eastern state in 2011.
The Tokyo District Court upheld a government ruling made five years ago, that the pair's bid for asylum was not admissible under international refugee law.
Immigration and asylum are sensitive subjects in Japan, where many pride themselves on cultural and ethnic homogeneity even amid a shrinking population and the worst labour shortage since the 1970s.
"The world understands the Syrian situation – it's getting worse. But the Japanese court hasn't understood that at all," one of the plaintiffs, Joude Youssef, told a news conference.
Speaking in Arabic through a Japanese interpreter, Youssef said he planned to appeal the court's decision.