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Inmates on hunger strike at Osaka immigration detention center

30 Comments
By Thomas Wilson

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JT could you please change your wording a bit, they are NOT "inmates", they are not being punished by the state because they committed a crime, and 100% of them are free to go out at their choice. I think the best word would be "detainees". This poor medical treatment over there (even worse than a real prison) is one of the tactics they use to persuade people who refuse to go home, somebody getting sick is almost a blessing for the officials because the chances are higher they will simply give up and go home to get treated by their family or a doctor. I wished I could stil be working to help people there along with the Jehovah's Witnesses (the most caring people in Japan, doesn't matter who you are or what you've done) but I fear for my visa being denied by a poor excuse just because the boss got mad at me again for giving hope to the people over there and hampering their heartless deportation procedures.

16 ( +22 / -6 )

Fourteen inmates in a Japanese immigration detention center are on a hunger strike over what they call “inhumane conditions” including poor medical care, drawing fresh attention to the country’s detention system.

It's only going to draw attention if it gets covered in the national media, as in the newspapers and network TV. It's cases like these that get covered internationally or in the English media but few if any Japanese know, or sadly even care.

I know a guy who reads JT and other English print and I have talked with him about this detention center problem before, and he told me "So what...If they come here illegally or try to get into the country illegally then odds are they are criminals anyway and should be treated as such" Typically this guy is pretty cool, but he comes across as a total ass when it comes to rights issues, wanted to slam my beer mug upside his head after he commented as such.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Are these illegal aliens attempting to obtain free stuff at somebody else's expense.

-8 ( +12 / -20 )

Detention problems? who is complaining, O, the detainees, Not some Human rights NGO. Really these detainees have never been in a Jordan or a Libyan Refugee camp were hungary is a daily issue from not enough. Not form refusing to eat the Halla approved meals and far far better condition. The detainees are pushing emotional button the see what response they can gain.

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

A spokeswoman for the bureau, Mahomi Oiwa, said the facility was not aware of any complaints about medical care or length of detentions.

Of course not. The blind monkey, deaf monkey and mute monkey are alive and kicking.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Good on the detainees! I wish them all the best and stand with them.

"So what...If they come here illegally or try to get into the country illegally then odds are they are criminals anyway and should be treated as such" Typically this guy is pretty cool, but he comes across as a total ass when it comes to rights issues, wanted to slam my beer mug upside his head after he commented as such.

Unfortunately, this is the general attitude of the Japanese. So many people I have talked to have expressed similar views. The Japanese who don't have this view have been, in my experience, the minority sadly.

This has to get covered by international news agencies with them naming and shaming Japan. Detention centers in this country are not worthy of being considered centers but more along the lines of a Guantanamo prison.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

The idea seems to be that we have worked hard here in Japan to create a paradise on Earth so why can't these people work hard in their own countries to at least make it liveable. They are here just to take advantage of us and we should be strict with such freeloaders. The nuance that Japan had every advantage and many of the countries the refugees come from were beset with internal division from the beginning is mostly lost. Perhaps the developed world has even made things worse for them by exploiting these divisions to gain their resources at knock-down prices, benefitting Japan and meaning that Japan has contributed to their misery. "But we are a country of peace," they cry.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

The detainees launched their hunger strike at the center in the city of Osaka on Monday over the rejection of their applications for provisional release, the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau said Friday.

Ok so the facility is the one putting out the information/press release

A spokeswoman for the bureau, Mahomi Oiwa, said the facility was not aware of any complaints about medical care or length of detentions.

Are you daft or what? YOUR office but out the information that they were on a hunger strike. Do you actually believe they are doing it for fun and games?

Calling you an ignorant idiot is actually being nice, as I can't write here what I really want to say. Were you off playing with yourself when YOUR office made this information public?

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Those facilities routinely put together regular people and people infected with HIV and Hepatitis and make them all use the same un sterilized razor to shave.

Romms full of 6-8 people all using the same tainted razor. At least 4 different Japanese doctors have told the immigration people to stop this practice immediately but it continues.

Do not be so hard on these detainees. You judge yhem but you may end up in there yourself some day. If you have ever held a second job like teaching English at cafes on the side while you have another job that sponsored your visa , you are violating immigration law and they can put you away and hold you indefinitely.

The other posters mentioned that the detainees have fewer rights than prison inmates- this is true. At least the prisons sprt of have an independent watchdog checking on conditions a few times a year. The immigration facilities claim to have this but in practice they do not.

People who attempt suicide are put into punishment cells and deprived of all entertainment materials and communication with other people for a week. No follow up treatment is ever given.

The place is a living example of cruelty and quite frankl Illegal behavior on the part of the Japanese government. They get away with it because people just think "Oh, dirty refugees deserve it". Be careful with your judgment- you may end up in there one day.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

They are in the country illegally, they should be locked up. Leave if they have a problem. Sorry, I think every country on the planet has the right to decide who can enter, and who can stay. Most foreigners arrive legally and manage to stay within the limits of their visa.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

"A key source of gray-market labor for Subaru’s suppliers is asylum seekers. In Japan, these people fall broadly into two categories: The bigger group of asylum seekers is made up of those who are allowed to work and have permits that need to be renewed every six months. A smaller group is made up of asylum seekers who are on “provisional release” from immigration detention and are working without permits. Under government immigration rules, these people are allowed to stay in the country while their asylum applications are reviewed. But they are not allowed to work."

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/japan-subaru/

So, in effect many of these detainees are paid slaves for Japanese companies, with no rights at all. An absolutely disgraceful situation.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

If they don't like the conditions, these illegal migrants are free to return to whatever country they came from. All this are tactics they always use to draw attention from pro-illegal trespassers NGOs with the hope their "noise" would lead to let them stay. The result of allowing that is not difficult to guess. Just look at Europe.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

The root cause of the problem is that these people are being detained for such a long period of time. Most of them are asylum seekers and there just aren't enough resources to process their cases and numerous appeals quickly enough.

The other problem is that the asylum seekers either don't know (or don't care) that their cases are entirely without merit. This isn't helped by the fact that western countries have been unilaterally relaxing the criteria of the UN refugee convention to supplement their regular immigration policies while still calling people refugees. Japan is one of the countries that applies the convention strictly to the letter. It's an high bar and the burden of proof falls squarely on the asylum seeker.

A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it

As you can see, it says nothing at all about poverty or being displaced by war (contrary to what most people instinctively believe). Personally, I think it's time to scrap the convention and let each country do whatever they are reasonable able and willing to do. There needs to be some new mechanism that let's us reject hopeless applications without years of appeals and the need to detain people who are at high risk of absconding. The well-founded fear of persecution should also be replaced with proof of actual persecution.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I guess all the mean-spirited can take big comfort that they are in the ascendancy in this world. As the resources are gobbled up and residual generosity is coming to an end we are all out for ourselves now. Much the way Japan has always been, I guess. Indeed, I think that this is the precise reason many of the mean-spirited like to live here; it reflects their opinions and sentiments. But they too will be at risk when it is realised they are different and undeserving and the detention centre will await their arrival for abuse and deportation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

JamesBurke: There are watchdogs and they have not come forward yet to voice concerns if these concern have merit. These detainees would of gone through a full medical and separated if any detainees have blood borne deceases. Once detained the detainee heath is the responsibility of the Government. If they did get affected while in detention the Gov would be in a unlawful position. As for visa,s, If your a guest of a country you must obey the laws concerning your visa. Islam detainees are provide with Halla approved meals, All detainees are afforded legal aid, Free dental and eye checks and glasses. These people knew that they were coming into Japan to apply for refugee status. They few into Japan on a visa. Abusing a system that allows for staying or working, easy travel for theses doing the right thing. The detainees are even offered a free flight back to their home where they can apply for settlement in Japan the correct way. People seem to forget about the refugees that have nothing and are waiting in middle eastern Refugee camping for years because they can not afford to jump the que and buy a flight or pay scumbag people smugglers.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Not "inmates," do some simple editing, JT

4 ( +5 / -1 )

why dont deport them immediately, they are not criminals.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

John-San There are watchdogs and they have not come forward yet to voice concerns if these concern have merit.

No, you are wrong. There is a watchdog but it is impotent. In 2014 a man died in agony while begging for medical treatment and was ignored. It made international headlines.

When the watchdog finally came around nearly a year later, they were not even aware that the incident had occurred.

You are also mistaken that detainees are given a full medical. They are given a cursory visual examination by a 22 year old with no medical qualification and then lumped into whatever area they're going to be left in for the next year or two.

You people think that the only people being detained are illegal immigrants and refugees..

Did you realize there are also half-Japanese being stuck in there? People who believed that they had dual citizenship but immigration decided otherwise. How about 4sei Japanese-Brazilians. These folks have never left Japan and can speak nothing but Japanese but guess what, they get thrown in there too.

There is far more to the picture than you believe. The immigration bureau of Japan operates outside of the law - the deaths do not lie, you cannot ignore that many deaths in a population of detainees that small.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

They are in the country illegally, they should be locked up.

NO- They should be deported.

Leave if they have a problem.

Many have had their passports confiscated the minute they came. Also many don't have the financial means to leave on their own.

Sorry, I think every country on the planet has the right to decide who can enter, and who can stay.

Agreed. But not to detain people indefinitely. And NOT to deny other human beings basic human rights because they are from another country.

Most foreigners arrive legally and manage to stay within the limits of their visa.

So for the others you recommend capital punishment or life in prison?? How about we start cutting off the hands of shoplifters??

The immigration bureau of Japan operates outside of the law - the deaths do not lie, you cannot ignore that many deaths in a population of detainees that small

Its a concentration camp James. How else would you describe it?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

People coming and staying illegaly in a country yet demanding to be given full assistance (medical, legal etc) by the country/people they have just 'abused' will always be a tough conundrum.

Imo the said country, in this case Japan, should provide basic medical assistance to ppl with pre existing condition then send them back home when/if they are healthy enough. Are they doing this? Dunno, this has to be assessed by an independent organisation.

Complaining about the 'length of the detention' is a bit rich though: they came here illegally and can't therefore expect/demand a speedy case assessment. They are unwanted guests, period.

Food, shelter and basic medical care sounds about right for ppl who, again, entered the country illegally. No sense of entitlement please.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

James Burke: I don,t know of the dying man but this has brought attention to this so call house of hell as you have described, yet the watchdog( which in your first post didn,t exist) have no concern over these recent issues or they would of officially notify the Gov. The sei Japanese parent of this group should of nationalised their children. But they didn,t, why? because they were aliens themselves and braking the law for being here. Detainees are given the due medical care that the Government is responsible for, being part of the UN convention of Refugees. These people Entered unlawfully and knew this. Detainees know that doing the right thing and registering in the correct way will take 5 years plus. Because they have the money they can puchase a Y200,000 return airfare and have the money to support themselves here while wanting officially entry. No they should stop using up the people of Japan resources and take up the free airfare back to they country. I have no problems with refugee settlement but you have to go about it the correct way or they are cheating on their follow refugees who don,t have the money.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If you have ever held a second job like teaching English at cafes on the side while you have another job that sponsored your visa , you are violating immigration law and they can put you away and hold you indefinitely.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop with posting urban legend! Your company may have sponsored your visa but it is YOUR's not theirs and during that time you can work in other places as well.

If you are here on a student visa you are only allowed legally to work a set number of hours per week, but that is a different story.

If you are working in a legitimate job, you do not have to worry about moonlighting. Check out the MOFA site.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yubaru PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop with posting urban legend! Your company may have sponsored your visa but it is YOUR's not theirs and during that time you can work in other places as well.

If you are here on a student visa you are only allowed legally to work a set number of hours per week, but that is a different story.

If you are working in a legitimate job, you do not have to worry about moonlighting. Check out the MOFA site.

Lots of things don't appear on the MOFA site yet they still happen, like people dying - try finding that on the MOFA site. Their representative still tells the media they are not aware of any medical problems at these facilities despite 12 deaths in recent years..!

You may be surprised at what appears to be OK on paper and what they can actually detain you for. The visa does not belong to you, it belongs to Japanese immigration - read the fine print. The immigration law is so bizarrely written that they can find just about any technicality they want and detain you on that basis. They can and DO do this routinely.

Here's an example that would likely end up in someone being detained and deported despite not knowing they were breaking immigration law: A guy gets a visa as an English teacher / specialist in humanities with an English school. He starts taking Japanese lessons at Japanese school and decides to take on a second job to brush up his Japanese and get some more money. He finds work at a clothing shop or an izakaya.

He is now in violation of immigration law and can and WILL be deported if they ever discover it. There are task forces within immigration specifically looking for these kinds of people. They have an inflated budget with not enough real work to do, so they go looking for people to destroy just in order to justify their own jobs.

If you think I am spreading an urban legend, why don't you check what I am saying with an immigration lawyer. I assure you, the Japanese immigration bureau is very, very sinister.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

James Burke, What is sinister about immigration officials detaining and deporting those who you say are in violation of immigration laws? Do you think English teachers should get some special exemption?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No, but I do believe that deporting people for accidentally violating a useless and purely administrative law is rather stupid, especially considering the population crisis Japan has.

However, putting people in unsanitary conditions and depriving them of fair access to medical care or just outright murdering them (Ever see the video of the Ghanian they suffocated to death on the airplane?) is quite sinister and is in violation of just about every international AND Japanese law that touches on the subject. In fact, these things do not happen in Japanese prisons - only the immigration detention centers. And despite all the deaths, they deny all knowledge and all responsibility.

If you think it's only English teachers, how about this.

Imagine you are half Japanese and have spent half your life abroad, half in Japan. You turn 22 or 23 and for some reason or another you end up visiting immigration, perhaps you wanted to use your foreign passport, or perhaps, because of Japan's policy of rewarding 50,000yen for snitching on foreigners, you have to appear in front of immigration. Boom - detained indefinitely. There is precedent for this - it happens, read about it. I've seen it personally. Japan does not recognize dual nationality and immigration can and does detain Japanese citizens who just didn't know anything about it. Why would they?!

Another example: You're the child of some Japanese-Brazilians who came to Japan in the 1980's at the J-gov's request. Your parents left but you remained and went to elementary, jr high, high school in Japan. You know nothing of Brazil except maybe that you were there when you were 3-4 years old. Boom, immigration is here to detain you indefinitely the minute they find out about you. Lot of folks in those centers like this.

The list goes on and on. Why should these people be in places like that? Why should they face conditions that even Japanese prisoners are protected against by law and independent prison inspection organizations?

The idea that everyone in those centers is either a criminal or an illegal immigrant is completely wrong. There are some of those types there, but for every criminal in there there are 3 or 4 honest people who simply have complicated lineage or marriage.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"If you think it's only English teachers, how about this."

Of course I don't think it's only English teachers. You were the one that focused on such examples. I don't need to read up on the detainee situation as I am well aware of it including the famous case you mention. And of course I agree that detainees should be housed in safe and healthy conditions.

But I don't agree that some of the types of cases you mention are "accidental" or should be overlooked. People here on visas that allow them to do certain types of activities, but not others, can and should know what it is they are allowed to do. People who have children of mixed heritage, regardless of the countries involved, or the country of residence, have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the relevant laws and to make sure the child is informed of them also. Any young adult who wasn't so informed should learn the details for their own sake. They are not exactly secret. The example you give of a Brazilian child left behind in Japan before entering elementary school is another example of irresponsible parents. Who then raised the child and why were no efforts made to regularize the child's situation? Since the parents (unless they have since died) are in Brazil, they should be able to help their child adjust to life over there.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You may be surprised at what appears to be OK on paper and what they can actually detain you for. The visa does not belong to you, it belongs to Japanese immigration - read the fine print

No shit just like your passport belongs to the country that issued it, dont go anal on everyone, YES it's immigration, but the idea is that people believe that their "sponsor" holds the visa, thus the right to be a slave holder. That is not true.

And the rest of what you wrote does not pertain to my reply so....whatever.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JamesBurke: first, All Immigration Departments are sinister. THat not news, And A Visa Holder are totally advise of the visa condition when issued. Again you are not reading or you are prepare to wear blinkers. THe Sei Japanese Parents of these detainees are at fault not the immigration department. They are pay to do a important Job. And you for one should know better then demonising these workers. Have a look at the laws or you only like to pick out emotion issue. How about the refugee family with two disable children needing wheel chairs waiting for the last 30 months in Refugee camp a Jordanian Border for placement. Why should these detainees have precedent of this family. Do you have a logical answer. No your answer is to allow these economic refugees who jump the placement que. I feel far more for the refugees family waiting placement the legal way then these illegal aliens.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So, in effect many of these detainees are paid slaves for Japanese companies, with no rights at all. An absolutely disgraceful situation.

"Paid slaves" is an oxymoron.

https://www.google.com/#q=oxymoron

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Overstaying and a whole lot of other things are actually criminally punishable in Japan. ( imprisonment for not more than 3 years or a fine not exceeding 3 million yen) See article 70 of the immigration control and refugee recognition act. I thought about that when someone said it was just an administrative law. So I did a bit of research.

legislation < http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail_main?re=02&vm=&id=2647#ja_ch12>

Refugees are of course exempted, but how many refugees does Japan accept again? Out of all the applicants, next to none.

But thanks for the heads up on the reward (articles 62, 66) for snitching on foreigners, very interesting (and frightening).

"Paid slaves" is an oxymoron. Nothing wrong with that?? We call the technique "irony" in English. Don't think the google link was called for.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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