Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 23rd, 2006
Hi Blog. Daily Yomiuri reports: Two state-run immigration “Gaijin Tanks” (where overstayers await deportation) have no full-time doctor on staff, despite ministerial requirements. This is apparently happening because of “culture and language issues” and “lack of career advancement” (not to mention long hours and low pay).
Yet maintaining adequate medical and health services at detention facilities of any kind is required by the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. Amnesty International calls on the GOJ to cough up the cash for conditions if they’re going to detain people like this indefinitely.
Read on for more on the dynamic and the conditions that overstayers face if they get thrown in the Gaijin Tank. Debito in sapporo
Detention centers lack docs
2 facilities holding visa violators not offering proper medical care
DAILY YOMIURI (Dec. 22, 2006)
Two state-run immigration centers where foreigners who have violated the
Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law are detained until they are
deported failed to have a full-time doctor on staff despite ministerial
requirements, it has been learned.
As adequate medical treatment and health care for the detainees is
stipulated in a Justice Ministry ordinance, a full-time doctor is required
to be stationed at the centers’ clinics.
However, the West Japan Immigration Center in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, has
not had a full-time doctor for about five months since the last doctor
resigned on Aug. 1, according to the Immigration Bureau.
The Omura Immigration Center has not had a full-time doctor for about two
years since a clinic chief dispatched from a local university resigned at
the end of 2004.
Full-time doctors shoulder such responsibilities as preventing the spread of
infectious diseases and instructing nurses and other staff.
Maintaining adequate medical and health services at detention facilities of
any kind is also stipulated in the U.N. Body of Principles for the
Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
adopted at the General Assembly in 1988. Therefore, the government may face
criticism from abroad over the centers’ lack of full-time doctors.
Addressing the situation, the Immigration Bureau began recruiting
prospective applicants through several channels, including the ministry’s
Web site and local job-placement offices.
But no applications have been received due to the demands of the work, which
requires that doctors be able to deal with people of different nationalities
and handle the attendant culture and language issues.
Doctors also complain that the centers pay less than private hospitals, and
that working at the centers will not further their careers.
The introduction of a national system requiring doctors who have just passed
the national exam to undergo training at medical institutions is another
reason for the lack of full-time doctors at the centers.
Because the new system allows doctors to work at private hospitals, where
salaries are relatively high, during their training, many prefer to work
there rather than at university hospitals, which are also facing a shortage
As a result, a local university hospital discontinued sending an experienced
doctor to the Omura center after the clinic chief left the center on Dec.
According to the Immigration Bureau, of the nation’s three immigration
centers, only the East Japan Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki
Prefecture, has a full-time doctor.
Addressing the problem, the West Japan and Omura centers have each hired a
part-time doctor to work six hours a week, over two days.
As of the end of October, there were 254 detainees at West Japan center, and
176 at Omura center. Of these, 15 at West Japan center and four at Omura
center have been detained for six months or longer.
The immigration centers have detained Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Myanmars
and other Asian nationals, as well as people from Middle Eastern, Latin
American and African nations.
If there is an emergency when no doctor is on hand, detainees are sent to
nearby hospitals by ambulance or other means. But in all cases they are to
be accompanied by officials to prevent them from escaping.
If the detainees are hospitalized, officials are required to watch them
around-the-clock in shifts. So officials are often called in on their days
A member of an Osaka-based civic group supporting foreigners said: “There
are cases in which detainees complaining of poor health couldn’t immediately
undergo medical examination and treatment. That’s a serious problem.”
An Immigration Bureau general affairs division spokesman said, “A part-time
doctor isn’t enough, so we’ll continue our efforts to find a full-time
Makoto Teranaka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan said: “The
central government hasn’t fulfilled its responsibility to ensure adequate
medical services at the centers. It’s required to have a budget for two
full-time in-house doctors at each facility.”
DAILY YOMIURI (Dec. 22, 2006)