The Tokyo Detention Center Photo: REUTERS file
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Japan needs to improve medical care for detainees, says immigration chief

14 Comments
By Linda Sieg

Japan needs to improve medical care at immigration detention centers, the head of the country's recently created Immigration Services Agency said, following widespread criticism of the care available to detainees.

Japan's detention system for those who have violated immigration law or whose applications for asylum have been rejected has been widely criticized for its medical standards, monitoring of detainees and response to emergencies.

In June, a Nigerian man who had been on a hunger strike died at an immigration center, becoming the 15th death since 2006.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, the agency's commissioner, Shoko Sasaki, declined to comment on specific cases but said: "In the area of medical care, we don't think that care provided is sufficient and there are further improvements to be made."

Sasaki cited the need to hire more full-time doctors at the centers, a challenge she said was also faced by prisons, the need to improve communication between staff and visiting physicians, and the need to increase the number of hospitals that accept detainees as patients.

Japan's justice ministry upgraded its immigration bureau to an agency in April, when Japan implemented a new law that is expected to allow 345,000 blue-collar workers to enter Japan over five years in 14 sectors, including construction and nursing care, that face acute labor shortages.

Immigration has long been taboo in a country where many prize ethnic homogeneity but a shrinking, aging population has boosted pressure to open up. Critics of the law, however, worry the system risks exposing workers to exploitation.

Under the new system, one category of "specified skilled workers" can stay up to five years but cannot bring families. A second category would allow workers to bring families and stay longer.

Sasaki said 205 people had been approved to receive the new visas as of the end of August and 684 had interim status while in the process getting approval. She expected the numbers to increase as understanding of the system spreads.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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In most critical cases it seems, the problem was the guards, duty personnel have ignored pleas for help. Is a bottom up awareness that hard? These fixes seem to be only 2nd and 3rd tier, guard to doctor, more doctors.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

In most critical cases it seems, the problem was the guards, duty personnel have ignored pleas for help. Is a bottom up awareness that hard? These fixes seem to be only 2nd and 3rd tier, guard to doctor, more doctors.

The personnel mirrors the system. An abusive system will have abusive personnel. It's the arbitrary and inordinate long stays of detainees in horrible psychological conditions that truly grind my gears. They ought to keep a cap on how long one can be held in there and possibly work with the detainees' embassies to find solutions.

Freedom is something wired in all creatures' DNA.

That's why our pets will walk out an open door of the apartment or any confinement. Japan must behave as civil as it portrays itself. Hate comparing, but they can look at Norway for ideas.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Cogito Ergo Sum. Japan must behave as civil as it portrays itself. 

Agreed, and only education and more speaking up about issues will move forward needed changes.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It stands to reason every human being has the right to receive proper medical care regardless of their visum status.

However it is absolutely necessary that the Japanese government keeps immigration under very tight rules and removes people who have violated immigration law or whose applications for asylum have been rejected from Japan as soon as possible.

One thing that would approve matters considerably is to shorten the procedure to remove people from Japan when that decision has been made to avoid those people being stuck in some kind of legal limbo which only serves to fill the pockets of lawyers who needlessly prolong the eviction.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Not mistreating them in the first place might help. The goody-goody image of Japan has been exposed as fraud in recent times.Their hostage justice way as magnified with Ghosn,really tells you what they do to foreigners when they can do it without being caught. Unless you come from a first world problem country, and get arrested,you could be in for some harsh treatment as the deaths have been showing. And why do I feel that "hunger strike" is a cover-up for what happened to him?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Hire medical personnel from among migrants then you will not have problems with contacts between immigrants and staff

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Independent teams should be able to inspect the facilities and have full access to any part of the facility.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Cogito Ergo Sum. Japan must behave as civil as it portrays itself. 

Agreed, and only education and more speaking up about issues will move forward needed changes.

Nothing gets done i Japan until it gets negative international attention.

No shortage of that at the moment, hence this article.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Unless you come from a first world problem country, and get arrested,you could be in for some harsh treatment as the deaths have been showing. And why do I feel that "hunger strike" is a cover-up for what happened to him?

And why do I feel that "hunger strike" is a cover-up for what happened to him?

Are you somehow suggesting that this person was killed by the Japanese government due to  applying excessive force and that they are responsible for other deaths as well ?

And not only that but apparently you also suggest there is some kind of cover-up going on at the highest governmental level ?

Surely you can provide us with proof of such outlandish accusations ?

Hunger strikes are a very well known emotional extortion tool used by rejected refugees and criminal immigrants everywhere in the world at the suggestion of NGO's in order to avoid eviction.

No government should ever yield to these types of blackmail.

Are you somehow suggesting that this is not the case and that the Japanese government killed this man due to  applying excessive force and that they are responsible for other deaths as well ?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Fire him immediately !

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The democrats should all read this. When they constantly cry and make up stories of our detention centers holding this invaders .they have better care then a retired tax paid American. So glad Japan doesn't cuddle illegal criminals ,good for you japan. !!!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

AkieSep. 10  08:53 pm JST

“Fire him immediately !”

What? Who? The only man specifically referred to in this article is the dead Nigerian.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Cracaphat, “And why do I feel that "hunger strike" is a cover-up for what happened to him?”

I would think if they were trying to cover up a murder saying the person had been on a hunger strike would be to the disadvantage of the officials as it would give the impression the person had something to complain about and/or wasn’t given proper medical care despite being on a hunger strike. For a coverup wouldn’t they just say he died in his sleep of natural causes or some such.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No i disagree they do not need to improve anything. The current policy is FINE as it is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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