A controversial illustration posted to Facebook by conservative Japanese manga artist Toshiko Hasumi has caused a substantial backlash from Japan’s netizens, provoking accusations of racism.

Although the manga image was inspired by a photograph of a genuinely malnourished, displaced girl who is escaping the tyranny of Syria’s current crisis, the cartoon depicts the young refugee as opportunistic and freeloading.

The caption that accompanies the illustration is as follows:

“I want to live a safe and clean life, have a gourmet meal, go out freely, wear pretty things and luxuriate. I want to live my life the way I want without a care in the world — all at the expense of someone else. I have an idea. Why don’t I become a refugee?”

The unpopular illustration comes amidst Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent address at the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York that confirmed that – while Japan will pledge $810 million to the Iraq and Syria refugee crisis – they won’t be budging on their stance of not accepting any refugees into the country.

The image and accompanying caption were posted to the artist’s Facebook page on September 10. Despite causing an outpouring of criticism (and an online petition to have it forcibly removed from the social media platform), Facebook Japan has stated that it doesn’t violate their community standards.

As reported by The Japan Times, the artist was quoted as saying, “It is my understanding that most of the refugees fleeing Syria this time are bogus asylum seekers. Instead of traveling around furtively like before, those illegal migrants are now inundating other countries through the front door… I have no problem with genuine refugees who really are unfortunate. This illustration is supposed to be a dig at those ‘bogus refugees’ who are exploiting the world’s sympathy for those truly in trouble.”

As previously reported by Tokyo Weekender, according to Amnesty International, Japan has taken in no Syrian refugees at all; meanwhile, the tally from the Japan Association for Refugees indicates that Japan took in three refugees in 2013.

–Chris Zajko

Image: Change.org