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Detainees go on hunger strike at Ibaraki detention center

51 Comments
By Thomas Wilson

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51 Comments
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Two years in a immigration detention center!? WTF? That's more than what some rapists and people who have committed murder get.

11 ( +28 / -17 )

Zero sympathy. Don't break rules, don't end up in a detention center. Simple.

2 ( +33 / -31 )

And Japan porports to the outside world that it respects human rights. What a joke.

Kazuyuki Tokui, a Justice Ministry official overseeing immigration detention, said the ministry did not recognise any problems at the centers.

Hey Kazuyuki- Don't recognise any problems at the centers? Why don't you do a little stint in there? Might change your mind.

-5 ( +18 / -23 )

Well, I'd say those going on hunger strike have just ended their chances of a positive outcome for whatever they were aiming for in coming to Japan illegally. Food is being provided to them, so it's on the inmates to eat.

11 ( +26 / -15 )

I don't see a problem here, they refuse free food paid by taxes from actual citizens of this country.

I rather my tax money not go to them anyways.

They will save government money that could be of use for actual citizens and proper visitors.

People don't end up in detention centers without a reason,they either broke laws or entered japan illegally or overstayed and trying to petition to stay.

Fact is they are always free to leave if they accept deportation ( and leave faster if they can do it on their own expense )

9 ( +29 / -20 )

"Fact is they are always free to leave if they accept deportation"

Wrong , a deportation order has to go before a judge , It can take years for a time slot allocation to process a batch which will be done on the quiet . Embassy's need to reimburse the Japanese Government for chartered flights and the expense involved in housing the inmate has to be recovered.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Send them packing to be honest. Our taxes are being paid to hold and feed these law breakers so enough of this nonsense. Detain and deport on arrival I think is the way to go

13 ( +25 / -12 )

Cosmos1

Is there a shortage of judges in Japan?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Also before being deported I think the deportee, family, friends or the embassy must pay for the air ticket otherwise they remain at the detention center.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

the ministry did not recognise any problems at the centers.

Yeah, no problems other than 14 deaths in 12 years at the same detention center, of course. If that is normal, then there is no problem, right? Wrong! There is obviously a huge problem at this facility. A problem that is being ignored! I'm sure that, if 14 Japanese nationals had killed themselves in the same detention center in as many years their reaction would be much different.

0 ( +16 / -16 )

Let me get this straight - this is an immigration detention center, i.e. a facility which holds people who have attempted to enter Japan illegally. So if they had tried to enter Japan legally, they wouldn't be in this situation. And now they're complaining?

Bottom line: If you're prepared to break the law, be prepared to accept the consequences.

10 ( +23 / -13 )

Yeah, no problems other than 14 deaths in 12 years at the same detention center

Read the article. It doesn't say that all 14 deaths were at the SAME center.

It says that there have been 14 deaths at immigration detention CENTERS (plural).

As for the story: While I certainly agree that detainees should be treated well, my bottom-line opinion is that you either come here legally and stay here legally ... or don't come at all.

That goes for Japan, America, or any country. Immigration is great, but you gotta play by the rules. Whatever the country in question decides those rules to be.

It's their house, and their rules.

Don't like it? They don't come. Or if you're already here, leave.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

Hakeman

What you say is absolutely true in principle, but the issue seems to be the conditions inside rhese detentions.

People kept in isolation - very damagung to mental health.

People in rooms with no windows.

Lack of medical attention when required.

Having to wait so long for a decision.

My own experience of immigration officials in Japan is generally good, but there are a minority of officials who are rude, un-educated, a law unto themselves, who should not be in that job. I hope these types are not employed by the detention centers.

10 ( +17 / -7 )

Kazuyuki Tokui, a Justice Ministry official overseeing immigration detention, said the ministry did not recognise any problems at the centers.

A rather inane comment by Mr Kazuyuki !

Obviously, if there weren’t any problems then there wouldn’t be any suicides, would there?

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Foreigners held in a Japanese immigration detention centre

And who else would be held at an immigration detention center?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Sorry, no sympathy whatsoever.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

@Alex Einz

Immigration in any country can refuse anybody for a variety of reasons.

The converse is also true.

Those wanted abroad or by their own countries can be allowed entry by any other country.

Even a Japanese could be held in detention if proof of identity were problematic...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Kurisupisu

Correct.

But if a Japanese citizen were to be detained in conditions like those of Japanese detention centers, my guess is that the Japanese would be the first to whinge.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I'd like to know what the 1000+ inmates are actually in custody for. I bet there are a good number that simply made a mistake like I did a few years ago by reading the expiration date on their immigration cards wrong. I was overdue for a renewal of my visa by 3 months before I noticed. I am in Japan on a spousal visa and it was an honest mistake, but I was told by the officers at immigration that they have put people in detention for the same offense before and that I was lucky not to be place in there as well. So why wasn't I? I didn't want to ask. I am seriously worried about making any kind of mistake that might get me put into detention. What if I run into someone while driving or on my bicycle and someone gets hurt, even it isn't my fault. How many of those in detention are in there for accidents? There are other offenses that can possibly get you booted besides trying to sneak into a country.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Their human rights have not been violated, they are being provided with food, they are exercising their freedom of choice in not eating. Any consequence therefrom is of their own choosing.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

I fail to see any reason why we should keep and feed those detainees on Japanese taxpayers money. If they are so unhappy living in Japan, they can go back to where they came from.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Maybe immigration should be taken out of the hands of the Jusitice Ministry altogether.

In most advanced countries detention centres are inspected by independant bodies, concentrating on inmate welfare while their cases are pending. Whether in Japan legally or ilegally there is a duty of care (plenty of international conventions on this one).

The response of Kazayuki Tokui really does show serious shortcomings in the system. If there was no problem, then surely no one would be dead.

Immigration officials (some of whom have been trained abroad) need to be vetted better. Working in detention centers is highly specialist and sensitive. Anybody with half a brain would know that keeping people in isolation causes severe mental problems.

And, at the end of the day, a judge decides the outcome. Obviously more judges are required.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

If they want to starve to death well good for them...the broke the law so they put themselves in this situation..

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I think we should try to remember, there are probably some genuine people who need asylum in japan and are ready to be deported. Criminals yes, but I wouldn't want to put some people into a double bind, E.G your classed as a criminal because you overstayed a visa, or didn't enter legally, even though you needed asylum. I think we need to decided openly and honestly who really needs asylum and not just economic immigrants.

I would hate to see a case where a trainee is basically held as slave, travel documents taken away, abused, some money withheld, working in an unsafe environment, but we'll call them a criminal because they broke their training visa by leaving that job, and finding working somewhere else.

Personally people don't go on hunger strike unless they really have a good cause.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The issue is really about conditions in detention centers in Japan. Something is seriously wrong and I would say that the Ministry of Justice is not up to the job of overseeing them.

To all these people screaming "they broke the law, they broke the law" - judges make the decisions in modern democracies, not a mob.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Just send them back if they don't want them in Japan, better than them languishing for years in detention.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Zichi

I understand how many would feel. I was in Japan in the early 1980's, and was acceprted without a problem to most. When rhe 4-1-16-3 visa was abolished, the immigration officer threw a fit, shouting and screaming (and doing a kind of dance). His colleague was smirking (inbetween insulting people from other Asian countries).

All they had to do was calmly explain the change without a fuss.

The damage was done. A lot of great opportunities were missed in Japan, but find other Asian countries far better and we have done great business together. Declining Japan is the real loser.

Don't ever hold your breath with Japan. Japan is a country that just does not learn from past mistakes.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Went on hunger strike ???? Put a coffin next to the table with food so they can decide by them self what road they like to go

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The Immigration detention issue in Japan, is a whole new issue. Why are these individuals held in detention for so long - what was their case history that prevented them from being repatriated to their Country of origin.

Maybe we are not seeing the whole picture here ? For example, an Indian ISIS Terrorist flees to Japan and declares he cant return to India for fear of being persecuted. Japan can not, and should not let that person roam around Japan free, as he would clearly try to abscond through various means... a bit like Money laundering. So what option does Japan have ? A Political Limbo situation may arise as a result.... but this, is simply guesswork. In order for us to make a proper assessment of the situation , we need more factual information.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have never had a single Japanese visa problem, and now retired and receiving pension but I can't return to live in the UK with my Japanese spouse unless I can prove a minimum level of income and savings, and in addition my spouse would be required to take an "Englishness Test," even though we married and lived in London for several years before coming to Japan.

I have never been required to take any kind of "Japaneseness" test to see if I'm Japanese enough to live here.

There are about 60,000 illegal immigrants here, mostly Chinese and Korean.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kazuyuki Tokui, a Justice Ministry official overseeing immigration detention, said the ministry did not recognise any problems at the centers. Well that says it all, people committing suicide and dying is no problem what so ever.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Garthgoyle #Two years in a immigration detention center!? WTF? That's more than what some rapists and people who have committed murder get.

Sometime, the detainees do not have Passport or sufficient travel document for deportation and also their Embassies refuse to issue necessary travel document to their citizens. So the Japanese Immigration has no choice but continuing detained them at immigration detention center.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The issue is conditions at the immigration detention center, not the diplomatic issues. Japans Home Office and Foriegn Office should be dealing with that.

Two years in a detention center isolalated, with poor medical facilities, no windows etc. would cause a lot of people severe suicidal tendancies.

Whether legal or ilegal it is Japan which has the duty of care.

Japan seems obsessed with locking people up in isolation. The excuse of "it is for their own safety" is BS.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Detainees began refusing food on Sunday, with the strike since spreading to an unspecified number of inmates,

It BUGS the hell out of me that wording like this just has to get plugged into articles regarding foreigners here on JT. This is a type of covert/subconscious racism and discrimination that most people will over look, but will also have a seed planted in their mind about foreigners in Japan being different!

They are NOT inmates! Get it right!

>

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Yubaru, yes they are inmates. They broke immigration law, which is punished by deportation and are NOT allowed to stay in this country by law.

The overly lenient Japanese system allows people to appeal to Ministry of Justice over this decision.

Ministry of Justice appeal can take quite a while even with all documents present.

The only difference is they can at any point leave the country ( using their own means obviously , and granted they have a country that accepts them )

One could argue that they have no country that accepts them and no documents and this excuse might work if you came here on a boat or raft with no documents but no such cases exist in Japan. To arrive here you must have had legal paperwork.

The only valid reason would be if your country does not allow you to come back , and I believe those are the single digit cases that are accepted as refugees.

Japan simply follows the international law as it was written.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It BUGS the hell out of me that wording like this just has to get plugged into articles regarding foreigners here on JT. This is a type of covert/subconscious racism and discrimination that most people will over look, but will also have a seed planted in their mind about foreigners in Japan being different!

They are NOT inmates! Get it right!

Excellent post Yubaru. Agree 100%

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There are few posts mentioning zero sympathy???

Zero sympathy for someone who killed himself out of hopelessness!!

Empathy seems to be out of fashion these days.

All of us foreigners who live in the relative safety of Japan do benefit from the strict immigration policies of the Japanese government and appreciate it. But driving people to suicide is not the solution.

You do not deserve to die because you overstayed your visa.

I hope there are some lessons learned here and steps are taken to improve how immigration detention centers are run.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I am curious to know if they are taking water, and if their health is being monitored.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Here is the key sentence from this article that more than justifies this hunger strike: "The death was the 14th at a Japanese immigration detention center since 2006, a toll that has led to wide criticism over standards of medical care, the monitoring of detainees held in solitary and guards' responses to medical emergencies."

I've never been in a detention center and hope never to be. What this sounds like, from reading of prison literature (a lot of which I reviewed in various journals), is a worst case scenario, or something very close to it. The 14 deaths since 2006 is appalling. This is something you might expect from a brutal dictatorship, not a democratic country. It is reminiscent of Japan's POW camps in World II in certain disturb ways. I do not mean the brutality; I mean the neglect that killed so many POWs.

The above sentence concludes with a summary of that neglect: the low standards of medical care, guards unacceptable responses to medical emergencies and not monitoring detainees in solitary confinement.

Medical care. Japan's universal health care is one of the best in the world. This includes prisons. It has been reported in JT that indigent elderly people break laws in order to be incarcerated. So why health care broken in detention centers?

Solitary confinement. This can be a terrifying experience leading to mental breakdown. Abandoning people in solitary is as bad as abandoning people who are physically ill.

This is most disturbing too. The world knows about Japan's detention centers and has criticized them. Yet Japan has done nothing to change a situation that snuffed out the lives of 14 detainees since 2006. Is this neglect, or is this malice?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yubaru, yes they are inmates. They broke immigration law, which is punished by deportation and are NOT allowed to stay in this country by law.

Get this, an inmate is a person CONVICTED of a crime and sent to prison. These DETAINEES have not been convicted of any criminal act and are awaiting a decision by the court/immigration.

That's why they are called and referred to as detainees. Including the word "inmate" suggests that they were in fact convicted of a crime, and they haven't, so you are wrong!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

They may have broken the law, but the state has a responisbility to treat anyone in their care humanely.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Breaking a law does not automatically make a person a criminal.

If it was so, then just about every person who drives on the roads here are guilty of breaking the law!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It seems daft to expect detainees to pay for their own air ticket home. Surely it's far cheaper for the government to buy them a ticket than to keep them in these detention centres for more than a couple of weeks? If they have destroyed their passports put them on a plane anyway and let them sort things out when they get home.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Surely they would all be better off at home in their own country, with freedom, their own food and fellow country men. Japan obviously isn't everybody's cup of tea!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@YubaruToday  12:22 pm JST

Get this, an inmate is a person CONVICTED of a crime and sent to prison

At least Wikipedia would dispute your classification: "A prisoner, (also known as an inmate or detainee) is a person who is deprived of liberty against his or her will."

Wikipedia might not be the most academic thing in the world, but it does suggest how the word is understood in common usage.

People convicted of a crime are convicts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least Wikipedia would dispute your classification: "A prisoner, (also known as an inmate or detainee) is a person who is deprived of liberty against his or her will."

Where in the article do you see them referred to as prisoners? This is about the use of the word "inmate" which in common speech refers to someone being held in prison. It is used HERE as a subliminal message to make people assume that these detainees are criminals, of which there is no reason to suspect them of such.

The following is from Wikipedia too!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detention_(imprisonment)

Any form of imprisonment where a person's freedom of liberty is removed can be classed as detention, although the term is often associated with persons who are being held without warrant or charge before any have been raised. Being detained for the purposes of a drugs search is tantamount to a temporary arrest, as it is not yet known whether charges can be brought against an individual, pending the outcome of the search. The term 'detained' often refers to the immediacy when someone has their liberty deprived, often before an arrest or pre-arrest procedure has yet been followed. For example, a shoplifter being pursued and restrained, but not yet informed he/she is under arrest or read his rights would be classed as 'detained'.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Please do not be too quick to judge.

All of the 1300 people in these centers have different stories. I was held in one for 43 days after doing 11 days in solitary confinement in prison simply because of a mistake by the Immigration office with a visa extension on a new passport after my previous one was stolen . They had granted me an extension but posted the appointment time to get the stamp to the wrong address. Once I learned that I could pay a bond I was released that day and once I was able to visit the Immigration office I was given a visa. I had lived in Japan for over 10 years completely legally and trouble free it was a small administration error. Another guy had split with his Japanese wife and had his visa removed and had 2 kids in Japan. Even though he was in full time work he was stuck in the center. Another guy had lived in Japan for 35 years straight without a visa. Another guy was a student whose sponsoring university back home had failed to make the necessary tuition payments. Many stories.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As far as I see all examples you provided were fault of people in question. For your own case ,you seem to describe police detention that most definitely has nothing to do with the immigration. ,sounds like oversealous police officer that didnt bother to check your status ( there is a number they can check.. they dont need to see your stamp really )

The second example, marriage visa can be removed, but you can apply for long term residence if you have kids if you do it in advance, which you must know if you gonna split up ( it up to you to uphold laws )

Third..well deserved, because 35 years not bothering to secure legal status...?

Forth, if uni didnt pay up, he would be well notified by the current one....

so yea.. all valid to go to detention.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

YubaruToday  02:44 pm JST

And my point is that the subliminal message does not exist. Note your chosen term right beside it, making them equivalent terms.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And my point is that the subliminal message does not exist. Note your chosen term right beside it, making them equivalent terms.

And MY point is that it does, it doesn't change the fact that JT all too often includes wording in it's articles that leave negative connotations regarding foreigners in Japan.

No matter how much you "shout", .....that alone deserves a comment of it's own, but I'll pass, doesn't change the fact that a detainee and inmate are to different things in commonly used English. The average, normal person who reads it, will automatically assume criminal when reading inmate, that is how it is most commonly used today. Someone actually convicted of a crime, and once again for the record, overstaying one's visa does NOT automatically make them a criminal nor should they be treated as inmates in a prison either!

The normal person doesn't pull out a dictionary, or use Wiki when they read articles, and JT counts on that. There are TOO many times when articles here have poorly worded language that does in fact make foreigners out to look like criminals. That is a fact, just like this one here!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The lapses in JP Immigration system is not Japan' s alone, the Consul and Embassies of the detained have a duty to support and find a resolution for its citizens, unfortunately you will not find them there. The JP Immigration spends immensely for detention, investigation and court procedures -  even with JP shouldering the return ticket, Deportation is still the cheapest , fastest, easiest solution. The only logical explanation will be that this government function's budget need to exist, its budget network is tied up to the Justice and Police Department, It's Directors and employees need to get paid, annual budget need to be used up and justified - without detainees, the money flow shrinks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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