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Dozens join hunger strike at Japanese immigration center

48 Comments
By Minami Funakoshi and Ami Miyazaki

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48 Comments
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You chose to come all the way to Japan. It's not a right to select a country of your picking. Don't want to be stuck in immigration? Get a visa like everyone else.

If there is a problem in your country..... wouldn't you fight for it? To fix it!? Why do most of the people that run away from the problems they created expect everyone else to help them and give them all of their special demands?

-6 ( +17 / -23 )

How can a hunger strike be rare if it "follows two hunger strikes protesting poor medical care"? What a misleading, deceptive headline!

18 ( +23 / -5 )

If they refuse the free food it's up to them,,,already get free shelter,, y should they get the same medical treatment like tax paying people, "basic" needs for free, common rule in most countries,,, y they choose Japan and not Thai, Philippines or any other Asien countries coz the treatment in Japan is still luxury

-11 ( +9 / -20 )

Cortes sometimes you can't, you would just be killed or your family killed. look at Syria, if you're in that situation what would you do? Fight with what? Against multiple groups of armed militants? It's either get, die or go to jail.

16 ( +22 / -6 )

Kimrox: You beauty! You would make a great immigration officer. If you dig deeper you will discover how wrong your thinking is.

11 ( +20 / -9 )

Agree, they choose far away Japan instead of all the other countries hoping for a free handout like the Western countries give them. They should go to America or Europe, why come all the way to Japan. Good work Japan please keep your strict stance.

-12 ( +8 / -20 )

Worth to be noted

This news was related in Yahoo Japan top news yesterday

It is not often that the mainstream media relates issues related to immigration centers

6 ( +8 / -2 )

And let's keep people locked up for years in end?

What purpose does that serve?

8 ( +15 / -7 )

You gotta be silly to come to Japan as a refuge!

Cmon, people still try to avoid renting me an apartment, say I am scaring them if I prove them wrong, or refer to me as a foreigner when they don't like what I have to say in meetings.

And I am Japanese, was born, named, and raised here.

Imagine what would happen to a refuge.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

If there is a problem in your country..... wouldn't you fight for it? To fix it!? Why do most of the people that run away from the problems they created expect everyone else to help them and give them all of their special demands?

With such of mentality, Nazism would have won the war and many refugees would have been killed in ww2, why have people not longer compassion for others nowadays ? People are detained in those detention centers for unlimited time without being trialed and keep deprived of medical care, if you do not see the human rights issue here then neither would you have seen it in chile under pinochet's regime.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I'm not so sure this is the best place to engage in this kind of activity. They'd likely just ignore it until a month after everyone was dead. Then say they did nothing wrong.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

"We need change. We need to stop this system," one of the hunger strikers told Reuters. The inmate was detained once for 10 months.

Is that all? Lots in Australia are detained far longer than that, and not even in Australia rather on small remote islands in the middle of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Yes, change can come - it can get worse.

Japan accepted just 28 asylum seekers last year from a record 10,901 applications

Actually a 50% increase from the year before when I think it was just 17 or 18 accepted.

Lessons: don't come to Japan looking for asylum if you dream of success; and don't come to this topic if you look for heartful agreement or humane consensus opinion

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Good on those detainees for protesting injustice.  Any country which practices indefinite detention is in violation of human rights.  Send them home or release them.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

np at all.. stop wasting my tax money ! go swim home, we dont want you here!

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Brave, brave people. Let's hope their plight is recognised. Hunger strikes are the ultimate protest; I wouldn't advocate them but they carry great political significance. Remember Bobby Sands?

Oh and Alex Einz; less of the "we" please. Thanks.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Lack of compassion especially from the non Japanese. They can only leave when they pay for a flight back to their country of origin.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Japan accepted just 28 asylum seekers last year from a record 10,901 applications, throwing a spotlight on the nation's reluctance to accept foreigners.

Even China that started accepting foreigners in the not distant past

has made great strides than Japan. There is too much distrust of

foreigners here in this country. Saw a program about two weeks ago on J-T.V

with the guest J-doctor guest claiming foreigners cannot digest Nori because they

don't have a culture of eating Nori. What a dumb and ridiculous statement for a learned

doctor to make on national T.V.

It implies Japanese cannot digest banana and a whole lot of foods and fruits because

they don't have a culture of consuming those stuffs.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

in fact, japan should charge them detention and wellfare fees to be paid at the airport on way out or with minimal labor in detention

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

We need to put a stop to this at once. Those poor detainees should not be held up at immigration for this long. Deport them ASAP to their countries, where they can live freely.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Detained or not, they still have a right to dignity and other human rights like access to healthcare.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Toasted Heretic

Hear, hear.  Preferably after a long, uncomfortable detainment during which they were deprived of some of their human rights.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@RiskyMosaic

And the irony is that the "I'm alright, Jack" mentality often comes from fellow immigrants :-(

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Some of the hunger strikers were asylum seekers and others had lived in Japan for decades as migrant workers, said Mitsuru Miyasako, head of the Provisional Release Association in Japan.

Were migrant workers on hunger strike in solidarity with asylum seekers or for other reasons? And why were they detained in this immigration centre, had they recently been caught? (I assume they were illegals?)

In any case, I don't think asylum seekers should rot in detention centres for years before their case is processed. I think Macron said 6 months max during his campaign and reckon it's about right (should be stipulated under international law too i.e "anything over 6 months is considered unlawful detention").

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why can't the Japanese government speed up the immigration process? why detain these refugees for months on end, get them checked over to make sure that they are genuine IE not terrorists or criminals, let them integrate with the Japanese society then they can get a job and start paying taxes. then this would be less of a strain on the tax payer. as they are not paying for food heating lighting etc in these detention centres, or is this just to easy?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Brave, brave people. Let's hope their plight is recognised. Hunger strikes are the ultimate protest

They are not brave, and hunger strikes are the silliest protests and easiest to ignore. I hope their plight is ignored, they come to Japan to burden this country with their plight. They could go somewhere else

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Please tone down your rhetoric.

Detained or not, they still have a right to dignity and other human rights like access to healthcare.

Actually "right" is a strong word. Nobody has the right to go to a foreign country and demand free health care. They have a right to be treated as humans, but they DO have a right to go back home and try to change their own systems rather than burdening foreign countries and expecting free stuff

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

They are not brave, and hunger strikes are the silliest protests and easiest to ignore.

Please tell that to the family of Bobby Sands. Or any family of the victims of a hunger strike.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

roughneck Today 01:35 pm JST

We need to put a stop to this at once. Those poor detainees should not be held up at immigration for this long.

They can leave at any time. So, technically they are not detained. They are just not allowed to enter Japan, which makes very small portion of the world.

Brian Wheway Today 02:50 pm JST

Why can't the Japanese government speed up the immigration process?

I think they are in the center because their petitions for refugee status have been turned down and they are appealing. If they had not appealed, the process would have been a lot shorter.

According to the white paper, the country breakdown of refugee applicants in 2015 were, http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001211227.pdf

(page 59) Nepal at 1,768 (23.3%), Indonesia at 969 (12.8%), Turkey at 926 (12.2%), Myanmar at 808 (10.7%), Viet Nam at 574 (7.6%), Sri Lanka at 469 (6.2%), the Philippines at 299 (3.9%), Pakistan at 295 (3.9%), Bangladesh at 244 (3.2%), India at 229 (3.0%), China at 167 (2.2%), Nigeria at 154 (2.0%), Thailand at 83 (1.1%), Iran at 68 (0.9%), Cameroon at 67 (0.9%) and Cambodia at 67 (0.9%).

I am not so sure about the situations in Nepal. Is there a civil war going on there?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Dango bong

Nobody has the right to go to a foreign country and demand free health care.

Who's doing that?  These people are being detained (imprisoned) by the Japanese government, and as detainees they have rights.  These rights include, or should include, access to medical care, food, fair trials and so forth.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

so according to this.. none of them are actual refugees

(page 59) Nepal at 1,768 (23.3%), Indonesia at 969 (12.8%), Turkey at 926 (12.2%), Myanmar at 808 (10.7%), Viet Nam at 574 (7.6%), Sri Lanka at 469 (6.2%), the Philippines at 299 (3.9%), Pakistan at 295 (3.9%), Bangladesh at 244 (3.2%), India at 229 (3.0%), China at 167 (2.2%), Nigeria at 154 (2.0%), Thailand at 83 (1.1%), Iran at 68 (0.9%), Cameroon at 67 (0.9%) and Cambodia at 67 (0.9%).

oh and to all people that blame japan for detaining them for long time - that is simply a lie, they receive deportation orders within a week ,with specified date to leave the country by.

The people detained are the ones that apply that decision,which is a long process (with extremely low success chances) on their own accord.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

They are not brave, and hunger strikes are the silliest protests and easiest to ignore. I hope their plight is ignored, they come to Japan to burden this country with their plight. They could go somewhere else

You know, the funny thing is I keep hearing you plug Bernie Sanders. Between your "barf" comments on another thread and the total lack of empathy here, I wonder if you have the foggiest idea what Sanders stands for.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Most of the detainees are not refugees but often visa overstayers or people that committed crimes and thus invalidated their visa.

Deportation is often delayed due to appeals, etc.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

RiskyMosaic,

Not 'imprisoned'.  I think they have the option of returning home if they want to.  But choosing to stay in a detention center rather than going home might say something about the conditions in their countries.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Sevenseas

That's right.  Imprisoned is not appropriate in this case.  Thanks.

They still deserve to be treated fairly though.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

they are treated fairly already, they are provided food,housing and med care at my expense.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Migrants working for decades

should read "illegally working for decades". That is why they are there. If they have been here for decades surely they could find a way to stay legally. They probably weren't paying taxes. I know a philipino who does this. She works daytime in a kids daycare, and nights in a snack bar. She has kids in Manila who she hasn't seen for ten years because she has no visa.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

" Good LUCK " with THAT SpongeBob....the food in Confinement is bad ENOUGH, without all together NOT eating....that' s a REAL STUPID idea. No doubt you are there for a REASON.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A fair percentage of the people in that facility did not choose to come to Japan.

They were sent here by brokers/agents. Many of them paid huge sums of money in order to get out of whatever country they live in, with promises of a better life from their agents. The agent gives them a ticket to Japan and that's the end of it.

Also, not all of the people in there are illegals.

Japan's using asylum seekers as a source of labor. For asylum seekers who manage to navigate the system luckily and correctly, they will be given work permits while their case is put on the "Reject" pile. Nobody will ever be given refugee status, but in the meantime they are allowed to work, pay taxes, etc.

They are required to report to immigration every 2 months and face detention each time they are at the immigration office. They have no way of knowing when their application will be rejected. Most of them are under the impression that they will get a visa eventually. But in reality, they will be suddenly detained with no advance notice, they are not given a chance to collect their belongings or cancel the various contracts they may have i.e. job, apartment, cell phones, etc. They simply disappear.

Besides the asylum seekers, there are also the "undesirables" - the South American descendants of Japanese who returned under the JP gov's emergency labor shortage measures in the 80's/90's. There are fully Japanese people locked up in those centers. They should be given citizenship but are not. Many of them speak nothing but Japanese or maybe also Portuguese or Spanish. These are young people who have done nothing wrong other than be born into an unlucky situation.

Once they're detained they're put into unhygienic conditions in the centers. People routinely die in there, and the doctors on staff are psychotic - screaming matches with patients, operating far outside of their fields of expertise, etc. Guards at the centers routinely make medical decisions since doctors are available to detainees for only about 4-6 hours per week.

Sharing of unsterilized razors is basically mandatory, and people with serious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV are told by guards to keep it secret and are allowed to mix with the general population and of course share razors. The medical staff at the centers were made aware of this in 2014-15 but have made no steps to improve conditions.

People can be detained for years. The current average is between 10 and 16 months of detention -per detention period-. Many of these people are given "provisional release" for 1-3 years at a time then suddenly re-detained, so collectively some of these people have spent 3-4-5 years in detention without having ever violated the law.

I read on the news today that a man was sentenced to 30 months of prison for killing someone while driving and playing pokemon go. Can someone please explain to me why people who have not committed a crime should be subject to inhumane health conditions? Why should these people be behind bars for longer than a murderer?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's good to see many people still have compassion, but it's equally important to have a sense of scepticism in order to ensure that limited asylum resources are there for genuine refugees if and when they do arrive. I think the vast majority of people fully support helping genuine refugees and they only get angry when they see the system being abused so blatantly. Even in countries like Sweden and Canada the majority of asylum claims are eventually denied, so a system of deporation (and detention for those who are at high risk of absconding) is a necessary evil.

Despite the notorious number of asylum denials in Japan, it's actually still seen as a soft touch for certain groups of people smugglers in places like Turkey and Nepal due to the likelihood of being granted provisional release. The stats Alex Einz provides above on the origins of the detainees tells a big part of the story. The criminal gangs arrange fake travel documents for people to enter Japan, they then file a baseless asylum claim either on arrival or when they are caught for overstaying their tourist visa, they are allowed out on provisional release due to the impossibility of detaining them all, they then abscond and work illegally at jobs that have been pre-arranged by the smuggling networks, they save up as much money as they can, eventually get caught or surrender voluntarily and get a free flight back home in most cases. For them it's almost as routine as a working holiday visa, and just like a working holiday visa it's not cheap and only works once so I can understand why the detainees are so upset. I suspect the increased detentions are a way of discouraging this sort of behaviour.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@paradoxbox. Very informative - thanks for that post.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

M3M3M3

Very interesting, and I hadn't thought about it from that angle.

However I fear you're painting with too broad a brush. Can you confidently define all of the hunger strikers that way?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Give up free food in protest youve got to be nuts.Maybe if they didnt break the law to start off with they wouldnt not be in the situation they are in.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It would be great if many other Countries would do the same thing as Japan and keep out the "free loaders" looking for a place to move to!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"cortes elijah' (topmost post) and "canadian bento" (thus far the second post from the bottom - mine will be the 'current' bottom) sum things up quite nicely. Everyone flees problems in their own country - no one 'fights' to solve them. And what about when the conflict is over, e.g. syria's? will the present 'refugees' go back? perhaps 5% will? It is ALL about economic opportunity. As far as the hunger striking goes - go for it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It would be great if many other Countries would do the same thing as Japan and keep out the "free loaders" looking for a place to move to!

If only we could put a wall around every country in the world, ban all travel and force people to accept their lot in life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is a safe place. There are strict immigration controls in place.

Wonder if the two are related ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

paradoxbox May 12 08:41 pm JST

Sharing of unsterilized razors is basically mandatory, and people with serious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV are told by guards to keep it secret and are allowed to mix with the general population and of course share razors.

Are you sure of what you said? Do you have any sense of responsibility?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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