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Tokyo: Japan must fix own problems 'before accepting immigrants'

Tokyo has announced a billion-dollar assistance package for refugees fleeing Middle East conflict. It has, however, hosed down suggestions Japan should open its doors.

Japan should address its own demographic concerns before accepting refugees affected by conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) has said.

Abe made the comments at the UN General Assembly, where he announced a $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) package in response to the flow of refugees into Europe from conflict zones.

But he downplayed any suggestion that migrants should be Japan-bound, saying the country needed to attend to its own domestic challenges.

"It is an issue of demography. I would say that before accepting immigrants of 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," Abe told reporters.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting on refugees and migration on Wednesday on the sidelines of the assembly.

At the meeting, Hungary will propose the creation of global quotas to distribute migrants. Under pressure from its hardline approach to the crisis, Hungary's foreign minister says Europe should not bear the full burden of migrants flooding into the region.

jr/bw (AP, Reuters)