Indian man dies in immigration detention center in apparent suicide

By Thomas Wilson

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Last year, a Vietnamese detainee who died at the same center, northeast of Tokyo, was shown by a government report to have been left lying on the floor for hours before guards called an ambulance


11 ( +14 / -3 )

Immigration is a sensitive subject in Japan,

To whom? In effect due to a lack of any type of media coverage on the issue at all, the general public is basically unaware of anything about it! The subject is only sensitive to those in government.

 the latest death in a system widely criticised over medical standards, monitoring of detainees and mental health care.

Mental health care is hardly an issue for the general public until someone goes on a killing frenzy, then all any talks about is the family and upbringing.

If the general public is unaware or chooses to avoid the subject, you can damn well bet that these detainees are not going to be given much if any help.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

the latest death in a system widely criticised over medical standards, monitoring of detainees and mental health care.

widely criticized by human rights groups-

A government watchdog, activists and lawyers have criticised the detention centres over the treatment of detainees, medical care and how guards respond to medical emergencies.

They need to do more. Japan must be named and shamed internationally. Otherwise, things will never change.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

He chose to strangle himself with a towel? I think not. Just another mysterious death brushed of as "those crazy foreigners" These detention centres are a blight. I hope I never have to be incarcerated in such a mind altering place.

10 ( +13 / -3 )


4 ( +9 / -5 )

Why is he in a Japanese detention center? I assume most posters who live here, have visas and are not illegal aliens. We pay tax, work and assimilate.

If people want to come here, they need a visa.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

How does one strangle himself with a towel? And why are people being kept in these facilities for so long? If someone is illegal, deport them. If they cannot afford travel either pay for the plane ticket or make them work it off. No one should be kept in these facilities for more than a couple of months.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If people want to come here, they need a visa.

But what happpens when it expires?

There are Vietnamese and Philippinoes overstaying and some of them even have the gall to apply for asylum.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If a dog or a cat was treated this way there would be outrage all over Japan. It is elementary that anyone in a prison or "detention center" deserves to be treated humanely. Foreign tourists ought to know that Japan is not all cherry blossoms and sushi. There exists these leftovers from the Tojo days--the facilities and the people who run them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Immigration is a sensitive subject in Japan

I don't know. My adult students frequently have no trouble giving their opinion on the matter. They often forget their teacher is a foreigner as they voice their criticism right in front of me. But of course I am the "right kind of foreigner," they say to justify their remarks. Whatever that means. Before getting my permanent visa, I made a mistake once under the old card system and misread the visa expiration date. I overstayed my visa by 3 months. Oops. I brought my Japanese wife and child in with me for a humiliating meeting at immigration. I am so glad I didn't get put into detention. Poor souls there. RIP

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If someone is illegal, deport them.

These people refuse to leave.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

tinawtanabe: I guess my point just above your post was that I WAS illegal for 3 months from an honest mistake and easily could have been put in detention. However being from America I think had something to do with it. Not sure my race had anything to do with it, but the immigration officers told me point blank they have put others in detention for the same mistake. I am glad they weren't as harsh with me as others. Because of it, I now have a permanent visa.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He wouldn't have been in detention if he wasn't in the Country illegally in the first place, I notice the Social Justice Warriors commenting here think that every Country has to have an Open Borders Policy - Don't want to end up in Jail or Detention don't break that Countries law.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

You are very mistaken if you believe that only "illegals" can end up in those centers.

People who are perfectly legal can have their residency revoked at any moment by immigration.

Example: You commit a traffic violation by accident - it can be as simple as a minor speeding infraction or parking infraction. If the police officer does not like you, they can arrest you and charge you, and then your path to the detention center and deportation is immediate and final.

You would be wise not to support these death camps so vehemently - anyone can end up in there, including Japanese people with dual citizenship. The immigration authorities in Japan are ruthless and hold the same power over foreigners that the police do over everyone - that is, they don't actually follow the law and they can detain/arrest you at any time for any reason.

If you do not believe that to be true you need only look at the small print on your zairyuu card. Residency in this country is an infinitely thin thread that can be cut on the whim of a single immigration agent who has it in for you, regardless of your familial ties to this country.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Amazing stories told above. I'll stick to 90 days max :)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Why wasn't he at home in India,safe and sound? Travelling overseas is fraught with dangerous possibilities. What is the Indian Government doing about it?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This doesn't surprise me. When I was living in Sapporo, I was asked to interpret in a similar case to the above. The guy was Israeli. There had been a police raid on the apartment where he had been staying. It wasn't his apartment. When the police searched they found drugs. I wasn't told what kind. He said he knew nothing about the drugs.

He had been detained in a cell, by himself, for just over twelve months. There was no window in the cell, of course, no TV, and no one to talk to. He wasn't allowed to talk to the guards. He tried, but they wouldn't reply.

I took him some books to read because he had read both English books in the library over and over again.

The guy was completely shot. He was shell shocked. At any sudden noise in the interview room, he would jump and shake uncontrollably. This was unbelievable cruelty. I would imagine that if he had had a chance to commit suicide, he would have taken it.

I was asked to interpret because he was complaining of sickness. They wanted to decide whether his complaints were real or imagined. They wanted to know whether he should have a medical examination or not.

"Why do you even wonder about it?" I asked. "This guy is obviously in urgent need of medical attention."

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I was asked to interpret in a similar case ....I was asked to interpret because he was complaining of sickness.

But your then say you were only asked to interpret because he was complaining of sickness,

Also they, detention authorities do not just ask any Tom, DIck, or Harry to interpret for their prisoners, nor do they allow just anyone to interact with them either. Unless you are registered and authorized by the courts you are NOT going to be allowed into any Japanese prison.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yubaru, immigration detention centers do not provide translators for detainees other than for official proceedings directly related to the flow of the immigration judgement.

Medical translation is done by other detainees, none of whom have any qualifications in translation. Reuters has reported on this before. Requests for official translators are ignored and an official translator will only be provided if A) The immigration guard in charge of the ward happens to like the detainee and B) There is a qualified translator who happens to be at the center on other business at the exact moment the doctor is seeing patients from the specific ward that detainee is in.

Not sure how the police and police detention facilities handle similar cases, but the immigration facilities in Japan are in violation of a whole slew of Geneva Convention laws.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

By Geneva Convention laws I refer both to the 1949 war laws and the 1951 refugee and human rights laws, both of which Japan signed.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Death of an Indian man in an immigration centre in Japan is a serious matter . If the man had no money , Indian Embassy in TOKYO could have been informed , so that suitable arrangement for his returning back to India could have been made. Recently Indian foreign minister was on a visit to JAPAN .If this case was brought to her notice , she would have immediately arranged air ticket for this person to return back to India.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The point is that most people don't want to go back so they file all kinds of complaints why they shouldn't be send back, of course with some advice from outside what and how to do,, so even if the Indian foreign minister would have offered a free ticket to go back the guy wouldn't have taken it,,, to avoid this long stay in detention center with medical and mental issues just cut down allowable complaints and reviews,,, latest after 1 week be send home to original country,, all detention center problems and issues solved

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yubaru, immigration detention centers do not provide translators for detainees other than for official proceedings directly related to the flow of the immigration judgement.

Thank you for confirming what I wrote, as official translators are provided by the government when needed and not just someone off the street.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I don't think it matters to be honest.

It is still a violation of all UN protocol and is a violation of various treaties which Japan has signed.

It's not acceptable.

I am not so free as to calculate the suicide and unnatural death statistics inside these facilities but a quick glance at the figures will quickly lead you to understand that simply being detained in an immigration facility in Japan puts you at extreme risk of premature death. Japan's stats for sudden/premature death in immigration detention centers are worse than most (All?) other developed nations.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And as far as I am concerned, medical issues should necessitate the involvement of a qualified translator.

The failure to provide adequate medical translation may have resulted in the deaths of at least 4 people over the past 3 years. From memory, 4 detainees have requested medical treatment, been denied, and have died or suffered massive medical complications (Paralysis) due to lack of translation and medical staff at Japanese detention centers.

It is a gross violation of the refugee convention (Most long term detainees in these facilities are covered under this convention) as well as numerous Japanese laws protecting the citizenry.

I do not understand why the Japanese immigration authority is exempted from basic human rights laws. I do know for a fact that Japanese police detention centers observe basic health and sanitation laws outlined by the UN, and I do know for a fact that the immigration detention centers do not observe the same laws.

There is literally a second stream of justice being administered to foreigners, be they illegal or "disputed". Regardless of your feelings on the matter, please keep in mind that not all people being detained in immigration detention centers are illegal immigrants - many of them have complicated circumstances but are not illegal. Simply having their immigration status in dispute or "pending" should not relegate them to a death sentence. I would hope that you of all people would understand this given your posting history. Please try to see things with both reason AND compassion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The person whose job it was to interpret was called away and he asked me to stand in for him. There were no other foreign or English speaking detainees at the time. The prison was in Higashi-ku. My friend had organised everything, so when I arrived, there was a brief identity and body check. Then we went through several steel gates to a smallish interview room. A guard explained to me that I wasn't to add anything to what the detainee said or to change anything, just to interpret. As I explained, he had been in solitary confinement for over a year. It was he who told me that he wasn't allowed to talk to the guards. I explained this, but there was no reply. Mentally, the guy was in a mess. He was complaining of dizziness and unbearable pain.

I mention this because the situation is similar to the Indian man who committed suicide in this story.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

it would be stressful as an immigrant, and multiply worse as a refugee. These 14 deaths have cultural insensitivity to blame. There’s no need for detention centers — an ID card that indicates one is processing through the system would be smarter and kinder.

One hopes there will be new training to avoid future incidents.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A foreigner in japan is always a foreigner and treated as such. Even the j women are discriminated upon at work

it would be naive to think foreigners especially those from 3rd world countries will be treated any better.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If these detention centers are overseen by the Justice Ministry, then it does not say much for Justice in Japan.

And, if it is true that an inmate was kept in solitary confinement for over a year, that is a violation in itself. I thought under the Japanese constitution 6 months is the legal maximum.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


And, if it is true that an inmate was kept in solitary confinement for over a year, that is a violation in itself. I thought under the Japanese constitution 6 months is the legal maximum.

I wondered about this too and asked one of the guards. They said he was in solitary because he was the only gaijin in the prison. Whether the guy had been detained for over a year or not I don't know for sure. That's what he told me. It could also be that having been in solitary for a very long time and not knowing how long he was going to be there had screwed with his time sense. What is certain is that he was in a terrible mental state and I would personally judge him to be a suicide risk.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


It would seem to me that dention centers and immigtration detention centers in Japan have absolutely no accountsbility to anyone.

Most advanced countries have independant inspectors of prisons who are appointed by top judges or government officials.

They would soon realise that keeping a person in solitary confinement has a serious effect on mental health.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


What evidence have you, that Foreign residents can be whisked off to immigration at the whim of a police officer ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Consider this, an alt being requested to interpret at a Japanese prison......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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