Abe says Japan must solve its own problems before accepting any Syria refugees

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks before attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that Japan needed to improve conditions for its own people, including women and the elderly, before accepting any refugees from Syria.

Asked at a news conference after announcing at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan would provide $1.56 billion of assistance for those affected by conflict in Syria and Iraq whether Japan would join other countries in accepting refugees, Abe replied: “It is an issue of demography. I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.”

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jonathan Oatis