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The case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj: A PR nightmare of Japan’s own making

67 Comments

On March 22, 2010 (ironically, the same day my own visa was up for renewal), something terrible happened at Narita airport.

Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, a Ghanian national who had overstayed his visa, was being forcibly deported. Most reports concede that he put up resistance. They state he became aggressive and that in the course of the incident, 10 immigration officers and airport officials were involved in restraining him. He died about 30 minutes later.

Suraj's Ghanian mother and Japanese widow are suing the the Japanese government and immigration authorities. They claim he was the victim of an excessively violent suppression, involving multiple assailants and illegal restraining equipment.

According to the Yomiuri, reports by individuals “close to the case” said that the coroner had ruled Surah had a past history of heart disease and that was the cause of death.

One year later, the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office concluded that although handcuffs and other means had been used to restrain him, the officers had acted legitimately in the course of duty.

Some individuals have alleged the case to be a gross miscarriage of justice. In reality, information available to the public is so scant for those of us reading about it, the truth at best is an intuitive guessing game.

This is where issues that transcend a tragedy by any means arise.

A number of articles highly critical of the Japanese system of justice, as well as the incident itself, have appeared in the international media. One ends by pointing out that the publication attempted to get the Chiba Prosecutors' side of the story, but they flatly refused, stating that all comments are released through the "kisha" club system (a closed press core which often excludes independent and foreign news organizations.)

The international press should indeed ask a lot of questions about the Suraj case, and equally, Japanese authorities must answer them. Having an image as a country that beats detainees to death is far from desirable not only from a human rights point of view, but a tourist perspective as well.

To make things worse, while press information from public officials was limited to foreign officials, the Suraj's widow and his lawyer made themselves available barely a month after the incident at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan for a press conference.

At the hour-long event, attendees were given a past history of troublesome deportations from Japan. The month prior, a South Korean man had hanged himself at a detention center. There was also the suicide of a young Brazilian man in Ibaragi, as well as a hunger strike by 70 detainees at a detention center that month too.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club alleged that illegal immigrants are routinely kept in appalling conditions in circumstances that lack judicial oversight.

Just as no members representing Suraj’s side of the story were present at the Kisha Club press conferences, no individuals representing the 10 officers and the Japanese Department of Justice were listed as present at the press conference either. Such norms result in a disturbingly unbalanced situation in which Japanese media appear to be “state controlled,” and foreign media simply don’t get the full story.

In the end, we really don’t know what happened. In the U.S. under similar circumstances, would Mr Suraj have been tasered and restrained by whatever means necessary in order to ensure his removal, the personal safety of others and the officers – or were the actions of the guards outside the norms of international law?

I don’t know. In fact, it is not the purpose of this article to offer an opinion on what actually happened. Rather, I would like to offer an admonition to Japanese officials. Japan is viewed from the outside world and if the system unintentionally cuts off the flow of information to journalists outside the country, expect that international coverage will focus on the worst. In addition, incidents such as the Suraj case only serve to darken the views of foreigners living in Japan toward the country, the result being detrimental to the fostering of international goodwill toward Japan.

The solution to the problem is simple: Take foreign, independent and non-mainstream media seriously, and make sure there are bilingual vehicles for correspondence and exchange of information in any situation affecting the image of the country. It may be “taihen,” but in failing to do so, consider the consequences to Japan’s image as a nation, as well as the Japanese people as a whole.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

67 Comments
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Indeed, Japan and the foreign media have a problem.

I remember a similar case in Belgium. It might be an overreaction of the police officers, but I'm sure they never planned to kill him. It is hard to know if he 'put up resistance' or went completely berserk. It's a sad accident, but not more than that.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Good summary. Regardless of the rights and wrongs, it is a PR disaster for Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This case gets trodden out every few months to showcase how "bad" Japan is.

Usually they ignore the fact that he over-stayed his Holiday-visa by nearly 2 decades, got married AFTER his deportation order came through(never got a spouse-visa as he already was in the process of being deported).

Just being married to a japanese citizen gives you no extra status till you get the spouse-visa those are not granted automatically.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I'd like to see the 'kisha' club system fall apart. This kisha system only encourages continued undue government influence. Ryu Matsumoto, the Reconstruction Minister who resigned in July after only a few days in the job, due to his arrogant reprimand of the Miyagi governor, shows how politicians feel they can control the press ( to the effect of: "If you report this, I'll see to it you all lose your jobs"). He was undone by his extreme arrogance, but it exposed how the kisha club relationship works.

Doing away with this system would lead to more investigative journalism, "without fear or favour."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just being married to a japanese citizen gives you no extra status till you get the spouse-visa those are not granted automatically.

Perhaps, but you still have your rights as a human. People should be treated with dignity and respect, not like unwanted stray animals.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It'"s me, thank you! I get sick and tired of this story because no one ever reports that the guy was here illegally for TWO decades.

Pawatan, human rights? Perhaps if this guy had bothered to follow the laws like a good foreigner, he wouldn't have been sent to jail and sentenced to deportation. Foreigners in any country are well aware of this happened. He gambled and lost. Perhaps if he hadn't put up a fight while being put on the plane, he would be alive. Sorry but no, the immigration officers didn't cause this death. He did. What human rights were violated?

I wish they would deport all the illegals they find. They generally give us legal aliens are bad rep and make things harder for us all when it comes to immigration, visas and the like.

-8 ( +3 / -12 )

Pawatan, human rights? Perhaps if this guy had bothered to follow the laws like a good foreigner, he wouldn't have been sent to jail and sentenced to deportation.

So if you don't follow the law of the land regarding immigration you deserve to be torn from your family without warning, chained, and treated so violently that you die? That's not a violation of human rights? People deserve to be treated so violently that the die for a stinking immigration violation?

I agree that overstayers, especially someone who overstayed for 20 years, should be deported if not jailed first, and that people who do this make the rest of us legal immigrants' lives harder, but to say his death as a result of his crime is not disturbing at the very least is to me unfathomable. The circumstances behind this incident should not be swept under the rug.

1 ( +6 / -4 )

Do you have proof that he died from his treatment?

Yes, if you are illegal, yep, being torn from your family is the chance you take. Without warning? What, you think this guys should have been allowed a few weeks to say goodbye? Please! He had 20 years to say good bye and took the risk of staying - them entered into a sham marriage because he thought it would get him a visa to stay. Ha!

So you agree with everything these guys did. You can't pin his death on these guys. Had he just gotten on the plane and dealt with his punishment, who knows? Maybe he would be alive. However, he fought and well.. we know the outcome.

Nothing is being swept under the rug -hence it being in the news.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Folks,

Japan Inc & govt have been censoring news in Japan since forever, the kisha clubs are a real sick joke & shud be dismantled.

Thing is they wont because can you imagine if govt & Japan Inc had to actually face a REAL FREE PRESS, they wud be slaughtered, and in some cases rightfully so!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Do you have proof that he died from his treatment?

Of course not, and neither does anybody else. That is exactly the point. His death is irregular yet there is no investigation, no domestic reporting on the issue. Shouldn't there be an investigation at least?

Without warning? What, you think this guys should have been allowed a few weeks to say goodbye?

Few weeks? No. Few days? Yes.

So you agree with everything these guys did. You can't pin his death on these guys.

And you can't NOT pin his death on them. No investigation, remember. Just a dead guy under suspicious circumstances. Don't you think this is a problem in Japan?

Nothing is being swept under the rug -hence it being in the news.

The international news. Not the domestic. Not in a police investigation.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

While an argument in favor of more transparency in the local media is one worth having, even this article states that most reports concede the subject was resisting. This cannot and should not be tolerated in an airport, especially in this day and age. What was the man thinking? That if he struggled and fought enough, he would be allowed to stay? He should have gotten on the plane and tried to legally get back into Japan at a later date.

BTW, in most, if not all countries, when one is deported they are not generally given a few days to say goodbye. They are deported, sometimes within hours of the decision by the authorities.

However, the question here now is whether the authorities exercised due caution when trying to subdue the subject. Unless the press is free to ask questions directly, it is impossible to determine the answer. As a democratic country, this should be a concern for all citizens and residents.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

However, the question here now is whether the authorities exercised due caution when trying to subdue the subject. Unless the press is free to ask questions directly, it is impossible to determine the answer. As a democratic country, this should be a concern for all citizens and residents.

Ben, that is exactly the point. Perhaps the man reacted too violently. Who knows. With the seeming lack of concern by the police and domestic press towards this issue we will never know.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

it is really sad that we cannot know what happened. that is a black-eye for japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I feel for his death.

But the guy lived here illegally for many years, at all times he could have gone and applied for a visa to stay and work legally. Granted gets tougher to get approval the longer you are illegally living in ANY country.

He should have had the gonads to "man up" and face his deportation and come back legally after the 5/10yr ban, same token his "wife" could have joined him overseas for the period of the ban. She could have also put him on a "dependant visa", etc again tough on approval once you lived illegally.

Sorry, got little respect & sympathy for "illegal immigrants", etc. They know the rules but decided NOT to follow them yet claim to be victims and prosecuted when caught and deported.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Don't get me wrong.

I am just as much against the people that employed him, allowed him to rent an apartment, etc, etc without checking his legal status(visa, etc). They should also be found and punished. Did he even have an Alien Registration Card? How did he get his medicals covered, .... Most docs look at you funny when you don't have medical coverage(legally needed) and want a valid ID. The real problems go way deeper as many locals allow illegals to live here and prosper.

I am 100% legal, did the paper-work, jumped through the hoops and got PR now and with that much support, etc that an illegal will never have. Plus, I don't worry about Immigration knocking on my door at 05:00 to have me arrested/deported. ;)

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Three words people: fundamental attribution error.

Without knowing much, much more about the deceased's situation it is obscenely arrogant to presume that we know how we would have acted in those circumstances. For the same reason, it is silly to try and adjudicate the actions of the individual police officers.

What we can do instead is reflect on the system that brought these circumstances about (as this article does, to its credit). This is a system in which, as we know, thousands of people overstay their visas for extremely long periods of time. Are those people nihilistic or evil? Of course not. It is ignorant and self-serving to insist that they are all "bad eggs" that deserve whatever punishment comes their way because they "chose" to act unlawfully.

The presence in a society of such widespread illegality reflects poorly on the structure and norms of the society, not our brothers and sisters who are breaking the law. It is only when we realise that we are all in this together, and start taking responsibility for each other's actions, that we can put an end to the type of situation that caused this tragic loss of life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Most reports concede that he put up resistance.

The writer's own shoddy reporting doesn't make a very good case for his cause here. In the era, the country of the ubiquitous smart phone did anyone get video or pics? If not who is the source for the statement given above ? Who were the witnesses? How many reports were there and what percentage constitutes 'most' of them? In reviewing current affairs on the US and Europe I hit dozens of blogs a day, sometimes as many as fifty. But this article doesn't do much for "foreign, independent and non-mainstream media" in Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

i think this article is more about the systematic denial of information. i, too, am legal, jumped through all the hoops yadayada and yes illegals give us a bad rep and it is illegal to overstay. but, let us remember what the writer is really talking about - being denied info and THAT is what is so wrong.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The international news. Not the domestic.

Interesting. I was under the impression that Japantoday was done IN Japan. Making it... a domestic news outlet.

So, you can't prove that the police did it, you can't prove that they didn't. Guess what? In a court of law, the police would be found... innocent. Why? Because you can't prove they did it. Had the guy been smart (let's be honest, he wasn't all that smart if he was an illegal for so many years instead of trying to get a visa and whatnot) he wouldn't have fought. As someone else said, what did he think they would do? Allow him to go free if he managed to escape? Man up, get on the plane and try and come back LEGALLY. He didn't. Sorry. Nope. No sympathy for being sent on his way. The amount of crap I go through - immigration, entrance fees, city hall... - to be legal is worth it if it means I get to stay here and be with my husband, family and friends. The guy thought he was above the law. For all we know, he was ill and this could have happened anywhere.

"In addition, incidents such as the Suraj case only serve to darken the views of foreigners living in Japan toward the country, the result being detrimental to the fostering of international goodwill toward Japan. " Suraj did a great job in darken the views of foreigners living in Japan. Maybe they'll start running those ads again about catching illegals. That was nice when they did that. Sarcasm off.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wow, tmarie, give it up. I think you are stalking me now.

So, you can't prove that the police did it, you can't prove that they didn't. Guess what? In a court of law, the police would be found... innocent.

...only because it HASN'T BEEN INVESTIGATED. You seem to be skipping over this point. It's like asking over and over again why Mr Suraj just doesn't go back home to his country of origin now, completely neglecting that he's dead.

Interesting. I was under the impression that Japantoday was done IN Japan. Making it... a domestic news outlet.

...And JT is investigating this case? Wow, that's news to me. Please give a link to an original piece of investigative journalism on this case or any other case by JT. This site has articles from external sources (mostly international when it comes to news) and opinion pieces. It's not an investigative news source, and you are very well aware of that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wow, tmarie, give it up. I think you are stalking me now.

So, you can't prove that the police did it, you can't prove that they didn't. Guess what? In a court of law, the police would be found... innocent.

...only because it HASN'T BEEN INVESTIGATED. You seem to be skipping over this point. It's like asking over and over again why Mr Suraj just doesn't go back home to his country of origin now, completely neglecting that he's dead.

Interesting. I was under the impression that Japantoday was done IN Japan. Making it... a domestic news outlet.

...And JT is investigating this case? Wow, that's news to me. Please give a link to an original piece of investigative journalism on this case or any other case by JT. This site has articles from external sources (mostly international when it comes to news) and opinion pieces. It's not an investigative news source, and you are very well aware of that.

Suraj did a great job in darken the views of foreigners living in Japan. Maybe they'll start running those ads again about catching illegals. That was nice when they did that. Sarcasm off.

Yes, this man made me look bad by DYING. I am ashamed to be seen in public now!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Another well written article by this author, and i really hope a simillar fate does not await me or anyone i know.

Having said that it is unlikley to happen to me as i have the proper visa, i do not break the laws of this land either.

If this Suraj guy had the correct visa, or had not broken any laws he would not be getting deported, and if he struggled , resisted and fought the officials which resulted in them trying to restain him (and pehaps he was a large african with enormous strength) which in turn resulted in his own death then i feel the elephant part of the blame rests on his shoulders.

He could have chosen to have left peacefully and appealed or waited and returned later with the proper documentation, quite simple really, i feel sorry for those he left behind though. But i have little sympathy for a violent undocumented african who refused to comply with authorities.

I know there will be lots of thumbs down too but seriouly people look at the situation not the result to see the real event.

Things do need to be a fair bit more transparent here though and unbiased reporting by local and international media should not be impeeded.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Such norms result in a disturbingly unbalanced situation in which Japanese media appear to be “state controlled,” and foreign media simply don’t get the full story.

Expand this comment to include Japanese media being controlled by big business, as well as the state. One need look no further than TEPCO and Olympus to understand this. The kisha system is not consistent with a country that truly holds freedom of speach/the press as sacred. Instead it is consistent with a country that has things to hide.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Manufacturing consent=J-media's cover-up of J-government's embarrassment=restriction of access to foreign correspondents=justification for racial discrimination/police brutality against non-Japanese(and Japanese eventually)

The cycle of Order in J-land: "sacrifice but no guilt, no redemption."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Stalking? For commenting on something I disagree on? Doubt it.

Your comment was that local news wasn't carrying it. I disagreed and used this website as proof.

You're right, it hasn't been investigated. Should it? Sure. However, it doesn't change my opinion that the writer left out a lot of convenient facts abotu this story - to win this poor gaijin sympathy. I don't see you getting upset at the writer for telling very little info about the issues around WHY this guy was an issue and they wanted him out - besides being illegal. Had he been living in his country legally, perhaps he would have died there at the same time. Thing is, he took his chance, fought with officers and well...

The man makes you look bad because people here don't seem to understand that all of us are not the same. They hear news about illegals, read banners on the trains and they all start wondering who is legal and who isn't. If you think that makes your life easier here, be my guest. I won't. If you don't get why illegals hurt "us", perhaps you should think a bit more about the issue.

Expert, well said. Though I don't care where he was from. Had he been an illegal, violent white American, I would be feeling exactly the same.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

tmarie- I guess you never met or interact with overstayers in Japan. You seem to forgot that these people have still human rights to be respected and their illegal status doesn't give the authority to the Japanese Goverment to abuse them. You should get off of your white horse(no pun intended) and learn about the real world.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Overstayers get treated badly in any country, japan is not an exception. I really feel for these people though, but countries have to make them feel as bad as possible so that they won`t return.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Chuck, I don't think I ever said I agreed with abuse. However, the guy struggled. What would you like the police to do? Let him go? Had he not struggled, there would have been no problem. See how it works?

The real world?? How is what I know not real? I live in a fake world because I don't know any illegals. What kind of world are YOU living in? I prefer not to hang out with criminals. Which is what illegals are. They are knowingly breaking the law. Thanks but I prefer a better crowd.

You don't get street cred for thinking knowing illegals is cool or makes you a better person. Well aware of the issues - which is one reason why I make sure my visa and whatnot is kept up to date. Shame other people think they are smarter than the system and when get caught, refuse to take the punishment.

-5 ( +1 / -7 )

Chuckbello. the expression is 'high horse' so either you made a mistake or your pun was definitely intended. I think the main facts are these: This man's wife thinks he was treated badly, because she thinks he was a nice guy. The government officials say he resisted and that is why they acted. A doctor investigates and finds he had a hard condition and that was the cause of his death.

Since when do people trust media and guesses better than the law and professionals? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? These officials who are being accused of handling wrongly without proof.

Overstaying illegally (especially for a long time) means not paying taxes and no respect for the rules of the country. This means that deportation is a logical approach. When confronted with the rules of this country, he decides to resist and use force.

I feel that if they clubbed in his head and caused his death, a doctor could find out and one of the officials would be fired/jailed. However in this case, no special reason was found and the guy died of panic and a heart condition, rather than inhumane treatment.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

You're right, it hasn't been investigated. Should it? Sure. However, it doesn't change my opinion that the writer left out a lot of convenient facts abotu this story - to win this poor gaijin sympathy. I don't see you getting upset at the writer for telling very little info about the issues around WHY this guy was an issue and they wanted him out - besides being illegal.

I am not upset at the author because a detailed recitation of the known facts isn't necessary for the piece he wrote. I'm already aware of the scant known facts about the case. I'm sure some others are not, but information can be found with a few clicks on google to read some stories from international sources. But there isn't that much known - again, the point.

The man makes you look bad because people here don't seem to understand that all of us are not the same.

I'm not sure how long you have lived here or how many local friends you have made, but personally I haven't had any problems with people recognizing that I am a unique individual, not a a part of some collective gaijin hive. I'm sure there are plenty of people I don't know who will make all sorts of assumptions about who I am or any other foreigner is ("ah, you are a teacher, right?") but that can't be helped. I don't see how the DEATH of a foreigner in police custody (for whatever reason) affects that at all.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Pawatan, you might want to ask your Japanese friends what they think of other foreigners they don't know. You might be shocked. No idea how many times I have heard "gaijin blah blah blah" from students, coworkers, friends, family... and when I point out "Hey! I"m a foreigner and I don't do this" they make comments oh "Oh but you're different." Just because you're friends with them doesn't mean they don't think ill of other foreigners.

It DOES matter to this article. The way this guy has written makes it seem like this guy was dragged kicking and screaming (which he was it seems) with no history of issues with immigration, no history will illnesses... It isn't the full picture. You hear "a man hit another man" and you suggested he be arrested. When you hear the full story of ":The man hit another man after he had a knife pulled on him" and you realise it was self defense. You need all the details and info before you can form a decent opinion. People not knowing this story and reading the above are going to jump to some conclusions that could be misplaced.

Jotter, I figured Chuck was trying to insinuate that I am racist with the "white" comment. Which I figured was best to ignore. If that is the best he can come up with... And great post!

-5 ( +0 / -6 )

There are way too many mysteries in foreigners deaths in Japan. Did anyone know about these?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20070206f2.html

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110906zg.html

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well seeing as they have been reported in a national paper, I am assuming people know about them!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Such norms result in a disturbingly unbalanced situation in which Japanese media appear to be “state controlled,” and foreign media simply don’t get the full story.

Eddie, you write real stories and have a great penship, JT should be paying you for these they are the best articles on the site. Keep it up, I look forward to reading your articles everytime I see them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jotter,

you must be new to these isles otherwise you wud know the authorities routinely lie & cover up deaths.

Not to long ago a sumotori was severely beaten to death, the beya & cops signed off on his death & they quickly wanted to cremate the body, to "help" the family. The family refused & demanded to see their son, after a fight they got their wish & got to see their sons battered body, there are countless reasons why one shud NEVER EVER trust the authorities in Japan, PERIOD.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Well seeing as they have been reported in a national paper, I am assuming people know about them

Well I assume you just keep picking fights with whomever you can for reasons the other readers can only assume, as well as I assume you don't really know whose deaths these articles describe without checking the links. I would also assume that not so many people have actually heard about these cases, since Japan Times is the only foreign language media which picked them, and foreign press couldn't get any info about them sufficient to publish decent thrustworthy article without going into way too many assumptions.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

For everyone who is worried about having the same happen to him/her the solution to the problem is simple: do not break the law and if you do and get caught do not fight the police.

Now that was not too difficult, was it?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

While I am not condoning people breaking the law, I think Japan shoots itself in the foot with it's severe overstay policies. If you don't know what they are, read below. They are so onerous for most people, particularly the ones most likely to overstay, those being low-paid laborers from developing nations, that it is almost better for them to continue overstaying, saving what they can and taking their chances with getting caught. Additionally, you are far more likely to face the strictest points in this policy if you are not white. As someone who is married to a black African I can tell you that he is regularly stopped by the police in our own neighborhood despite having been in Japan legally and having lived in the same building for many years. I know of no white men or women who get stopped as often as he or his friends.

"*Despite UN and Prime Ministerial studies clamoring for more immigration and foreign tourism, Japan is not doing itself any favors with its recent legislation on overstays. Last Thursday, May 27, 2004, Japan's more-powerful Lower House passed an amendment to the "Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law", which takes effect six months after its imminent promulgation.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20040528a1.htm

This amendment enacts stricter punishments for those overstaying their visa. Banishment time from Japan has been doubled from five to ten years. Maximum fine increased tenfold from 300,000 to 3 million yen (more than a year's salary in most countries). Those who go down to Immigration to come clean before being caught are merely deported faster. This in addition to the already-enforced incarceration with other criminals for at least several days (sometimes at a charge of 60,000 yen per day), without access to family, a consulate, or even a lawyer." *

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Saso, you asked if anyone knew about the cases. Obviously people do as it was in the paper. Write a comment like that, you deserve that sort of reply.

Oh and your links weren't working!

Pick fights? Nope. Just disagreeing or pointing out the obvious.

Mekki, well said.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

It really is depressing when peoiple are blatenly breaking the law, regardless of what it is (drugs in Maylasia, Visa overstays in Japan/US..., violent protests i Oakland) and the police step in to do their JOB they re the one that get "questioned". Especially when the law offenders offer resistance ad the law defenders have to "react".

WE CAN'T LIVE IN A SOCIETY that allows people to flagrently disregard teh law, otherwise we have no CIVILIZED society. I am for "innocent until proven guilty" (a US law and not Japan by the way) but that does IN NOW WAY justify resistance or violence. In fact simply make the "offenders" case more straight forward.

Live a straight life and fear not and should injustice befall you I will be at your side. Break the law, fight the police and die as a resilt and I do not feel sorrow or pity for you. I do however feel for the ones left behind (wife?, mom, dad...). But that still doen not mean that i would support them seeking compensation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Folks, one of the problems with pointing out the over stayers etc are breaking laws is the fact that Japan also lets these people in KNOWING full well some will overstay & work etc, its all part of how Japan "works". Then the keystones round up a few, kick them out etc & meanwhile immigration is letting more in, rinse & repeat.

The above isnt as bad or obvious like it was in the 90s but clearly this churning of illegals continues with knowledge of J-authorities

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So GW you are suggesting that because we know some of, let's say, Chinese people are going to work illegally and overstay then Japan should not let any Chinese in?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

GW.

Sure and that is why we are being issued new ID-cards as from next year, that are ONLY issued at the immigration office. Local wards will close their foreigner counters soon as all data will be handled and administered by Immigration in a central database and they are no longer needed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not enjoying going to Shinagawa for stuff I can do now at City-hall up the road.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan system of justice hehehehe not for international consumption. So gaijins be careful. Just obey.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the police step in to do their JOB they re the one that get "questioned"

They are quite frequently a bit too eager to do their JOB that people get killed. You don't see this from professionals such as the FBI, who deal with very violent criminals but somehow manage to not kill people. But keystone cops like those in Oakland and frequently in Japan do manage to end up with a body count.

PLEASE tell me how a cuffed and restrained man being deported can resist enough to require such violence to further calm down that he ends up DEAD. Is this not even a bit suspicious to you? Or is it just cops = A-OK, full stop?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

tmarie

Oh and your links weren't working!

Sasoriza's links work fine. You should read them, you most likely don't know about the issues already and could learn something.

Obviously people do as it was in the paper. Write a comment like that, you deserve that sort of reply.

Really? An article in the paper, investigation complete, is that it? I sincerely hope you or your family is not the victim of injustice either here or anywhere else and you get to learn what it's like when nobody in authority will listen or care.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

T-marie- Overstayers in Japan are guilty of civil violation of the Japanese immigration laws. Most immigration violators are not criminal offenses including people who have overstayed their visa for 20 years. Please don’t label them with some ignorant names. I have worked with a catholic charity to help these people while they are in detention so I can tell you one or two things about their situation. Also remember Abubakar lost his life at the hands of the immigration authorities and his wife and family have not be given satisfactory answers why this tragedy happened. In other countries a full independent investigation will be in order.

Jotter-Your last paragraph is just speculation and next time show more sympathy at the death of a fellow human being.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

80% of crime related to foreigners are actually for visa violations.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The links were not working earlier today when I clicked on them. The fact that they are in the papers means people know about them. Duh! I doubt my family will ever have any issues with overstaying visas - but yes, issues with authority can happen anywhere, regardless of race, passport colour... I however, won't be giving anyone a chance for that to happen as I follow the law.

Chuck, illegal is illegal is illegal.. You don't know the immigration officers caused his death. Speculation. Glad you spare your time to help but come on, these people know what they are doing it wrong. They decide the risk is worth it. They get caught? They better realise that deportation is the punishment. This guy didn't want to go - not that I blame - and perhaps the outcome could have been different had he not kicked off. Perhaps not. Maybe he would have died anyway.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The links were not working earlier today when I clicked on them.

They still don't work if you click on them, which I would assume means you still haven't read them. You gotta cut and paste in your browser.

I however, won't be giving anyone a chance for that to happen as I follow the law.

You may not have a say in the matter; that's what's meant by injustice, you know. As you eloquently stated earlier in these comments some may lump all foreigners together - who's to say you won't be mistaken for an overstayer, detained, treated badly? Who's going to speak up for you and your rights then?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Overstaying visa should not lead to a death sentence. Period.

Resisting arrest by one man with no weapon should not lead to death sentence. Period.

Unfortunately, the JP police/authorities treat non-whites a lot differently than whites based on what I have heard. My colleague at a law firm is Indian/Canadian and is regularly stopped by police for ID (every few months, even while jogging on a main boulevard). After more than 10 years I have never been stopped. Japan needs to acknowledge this and provide training asap.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm white, male, 50 something. In my 18 years here I have never been stopped by the cops and I have never been asked to show my alien card.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Similar here never been stopped neither on foot or on bike. Ditto for most friends(ME, European, etc). Only time I get asked to show my card is at a shop when I sell stuff/games, etc).

Experiences seem to vary widely here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It"S MENov. 16, 2011 - 11:15AM JST This case gets trodden out every few months to showcase how "bad" Japan is.

Yes, it is the poster child for all the other deaths and injuries at the hands of immigration authorities. The poor treatment of Bobby Fischer just does not quite do it for some since he was anti-American. We also have the suicides and the hunger strikes, but they just don't quite have the umpf of being gagged with a towel, as if his voice was deadly, as if a towel is safe and appropriate, and then winding up dead. And then having an investigation that amounts to a backroom joke.

Usually they ignore the fact that he over-stayed his Holiday-visa by nearly 2 decades, got married AFTER his deportation order came through(never got a spouse-visa as he already was in the process of being deported).

Is it ignored or do people just feel its necessary to bring up? I mean, we all know he was here illegally. Do we need to get into the nitty-gritty of why? What you wrote is like pointing out, after a man dies in police custody, why do people overlook the fact that he was driving without a license and speeding, and that is why he was in custody?

Granted a man is going to get extra scrutiny if he is over-staying, but you seem to be saying it makes him automatically an evil undesireable. The guy has been hear near 20 years. Did he even have a speeding ticket?

I know its bother and its inconvenient, but could something not have been worked out? He was with this woman for a long time. If he did not file for marriage it may have something to do with being illegal no? How does an illegal file for marriage without getting caught? And why would they if it means instant deportation? Besides, its a common-law marriage in any case,and an old one at that. Seems to me this guy was way better than some scum bag English teachers I have run into, so why not just give him the marriage visa and call it day? The big concern seems to about admitting undesireables, yes? That is the point. Well, he proved he was not a genuine problem for near 20 years. Meanwhile, I could easily round up 100 natives in one week who deserve to live here less.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Experiences seem to vary widely here.

I think its the luck of the draw. It seems that the police prefer to stop people they know they can deal with. And if they stop a foreigner once, and successfully deal with him, even it was ugly, they just keep hammering that guy. And if they got a rythym going, they are unlikely to break it for a new foreigner.

I suppose we could also throw in some psychology as well. Ones own behavior and appearance can affect if the police stop you or look you over, just like women are encouraged to walk with some haste and purpose, head up, to avoid rapists. Works on cops too. I never walk like a slouch and never show confusion even if I am totally lost. I always move like I know exactly where I am going. I walk and ride with authority. In many years here, I have only been bothered by cops a couple times while walking and maybe once cycling, and all in the city in or around Tokyo. And these cops are complete boneheads. I was stopped while driving and I had a tourist visa and international driver's license. He kept asking for my gaijin card in between wasting my time with personal questions. He may have been stalling while his buddies were going through koban records of foreigners though. Wanted to bash his head with a rock.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In the good ol USA - the video tapes would have been "misplaced".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For those who overly stigmatize the victim for his overstay, you should read the JT article on the same story.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html

The point that needs to be focused is not what he did in the first place. Rather, it’s how the immigration authorities treated him since his arrest. He’s been detained way much longer than ordinary Japanese individuals who got arrested for sexually assault the infants or teenage girls. They even ignored this poor man’s long record of residency and marital status in Japan, letting his legal document expired without any chance for citizenship renewal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

amerijap.

He was arrested because of his "illegal" long record residency.

Anyone can register a marriage at City-hall(no visa check is needed), as I said just being married means nothing for your legal status(Visa) until you apply for the Spouse Visa with immigration.

From what I read his lawyer gave them bad advise and told them to do X and Y to be allowed to stay and apparently he made "deals" that never existed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's ME:

He was arrested because of his "illegal" long record residency

For how long, exactly? 22 years? Even if it’s not that long, he should have been entitled to some rights until he fell into the cracks. Moreover, it makes me very skeptical about the authorities move—why May 2009? I mean, if he was truly out of status for many years, they should have been able to apprehend him much earlier—before his ailing health became of a concern.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

amerijap.

20yrs illegal in japan, he never applied for a work/residency visa just overstayed his holiday visa. He was detained that long as the appeal process for his "deportation order" was worked out at immigration. He got married during the appeal process at the advise of his lawyer.

Agreed, they should have found him much earlier, hence I suggested also nailing the people that employed him, etc. I have known quiet a few illegal immigrants here(mostly chinese ladies).

With the new upcoming alien registration cards(issued by immigrations and no longer at the ward office) and the new registration database it will close a lot of the existing loop-holes. Yeah, soon all detail changes on your Alien registration card will need to be done at Immigration(shinagawa, etc) in person. New cards will be issued to PR holders from next year and we all need to change by 2015.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's not exactly correct to say that ge overstayed his visa by 20 years. He turned himself in a long time ago and as a result had to go to immigration offices monthly to register his existence, so to speak. This is part of the process / a type of punishment one goes through when immigration thinks their case is worthy of being reviewed. This "registration" can be endless, and yes, I do mean endless.

Any resistance he might have offered would no doubt have been due to the stress of the whole process, treatment by officials and anxiety over not being able to take care of relatives in his home country because I guarantee you he was supporting many. Ghana is a poor country but it is a relatively stable, safe one as well so I highly doubt he feared returning.

He broke the law, that is a fact. There are repercussions for breaking the law and that is also a fact. What is not a fact, is that the result of breaking immigration laws should ever result in death. There are numerous ways this could've been handled where Mr. Saruj would be alive now. We visited his grave the last time we were there and there were other people there. He was a human being, with people who loved and mourn for him. Save your vitriol for criminals who had victims and harmed other people. His main crime, as I see it, was having the bad luck to be born in a country where getting a visa from Japan, the US, etc. isn't quite the walk in the park that it is for white North Americans and Europeans regardless of their lack of qualifications. He was trying to make a living, not trying to rape your sisters and daughters, to steal from you or to take your job. You wouldn't have done the work he had to do anyway nor accepted those wages or conditions.

If you are 100% sure that all of your friends pay their taxes, pensions and insurance in full then you can - possibly - claim not to keep company with criminal sorts. If you can't say that with certainty you may want to get off your high horse as it coukd be a long, hard fall when you learn the truth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ambrosia.

We all agree that he broke the law and thus he should be deported.

But as they say life is a bitch and throws spanners(most of us been there, got the T). But if he left quietly would he be 6-feet under now?

Like I said he had a long time to correct his ways and didn't neither did his lover/spouse push him to do the right thing, nor his friends and for how many years? They are just as much responsible in my eyes.

Yes, he was a human being on the same token he made his decisions and took is changes. Sad to say but he lost that lottery.

Easy to blame it all now on immigration, etc. But when you take stock who truly failed him?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sure, vote me down.

But who is primarily responsible for over-staying a visa? And no-one around then tells them to fix it for decades?

Fully agree that the immigration guys went overboard, but if you do the crime(over-staying) get the gonads to admit it and take the punishment in a mature manner.

Fight and all bets are off, same across the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We all agree that he broke the law and thus he should be deported.

I've not disagreed.

But as they say life is a bitch and throws spanners(most of us been there, got the T). But if he left quietly would he be 6-feet under now? I don't know and neither do you.

Like I said he had a long time to correct his ways and didn't neither did his lover/spouse push him to do the right thing, nor his friends and for how many years? They are just as much responsible in my eyes.

So are your friends responsible for any crimes you might commit? If immigration officials are not responsible for his death why in the world are his friends responsible for his overstaying? Should your friends turn you in if they find out you haven't made all of your pension or tax payments, that you've nicked a beer mug or done a runner? Turning in someone who is committing physical harm to others is one thing but suggesting his friends should have turned him in - if - they knew he was an overstay is going a bit too far.

Yes, he was a human being on the same token he made his decisions and took is changes. Sad to say but he lost that lottery.

Easy to blame it all now on immigration, etc. But when you take stock who truly failed him?

I didn't blame it on immigration. I blamed it on no one.

Sure, vote me down.

Not sure what you're talking about?

But who is primarily responsible for over-staying a visa? And no-one around then tells them to fix it for decades?

According to what you just wrote, his friends are just as responsible as him so now you've confused me.

Fully agree that the immigration guys went overboard, but if you do the crime(over-staying) get the gonads to admit it and take the punishment in a mature manner.

Please read what I actually read. He had turned himself in ages ago and went to immigration for monthly check-ins. Doing that and knowing he could be thrown out at any time if they didn't approve his application showed a lot of "gonads". He got frustrated because the application had been turned in years previously and still he had no answer on the status or possible approval or rejection of it so he stopped going. Again, I'm not condoning that but don't say he didn't try to do anything about his status because he did. Your saying otherwise is simply wrong. He got stopped randomly by the police and that was when he was taken to detention.

Fight and all bets are off, same across the world.

**That is true. What is different however is how people are treated by immigration based on where they are from rather than the specifics of their case. If there is anything to be learned from this tragedy it is that immigration policies in Japan ought to be changed. Reviews need to be speeded up and the procedures required during the review process made less onerous. He was married to a Japanese national for many years, it wasn't a sham marriage. In many countries that is, quite reasonably, a favorable and compassionate point considered when reviewing an application or request for a change of status.

Another poster suggested he was working illegally and not paying taxes. Those are both incorrect. As his case was under review and had been for years, he was allowed to work. If taxes were not removed from his pay that means his employer was violating the law. The irony is that illegal immigrants very often do pay taxes or perhaps a more accurate statement is that their employers often take taxes out of their pay though the employers may not necessarily pay what is owed to the government as it would mean admitting they are hiring illegals, often for lower wages and without making all of the necessary tax, insurance and pension payments.

It costs you nothing to show compassion for a human being who is now dead and to the best of your knowledge did nothing more than overstay his visa. Nor does it cost you anything to try and understand why people feel compelled to break laws, whether or not you condone their doing so. **

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If this happened in the U.K there would be a massive public out cry and investigations into it. Japan needs to allow for more transparency at any cost!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are some faults within society of Japan. If the victim was an illegal immigrant, how did they manage to register their marriage and became legal married couple in Japan? And for legal couple, there should be a legal way to get stay permission according to Japanese immigration law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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