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  • Japan Times: Another NJ death in Japanese Immigration custody while being “subdued”; details as yet unclear

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 27th, 2010

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    Hi Blog. In another case of NJ dying in Immigration’s custody, we have a person who came to Japan this weekend, apparently felt ill, allegedly tried to escape from Immigration’s questioning, and died in custody after “being subdued”.

    Now while there are insufficient details to determine whether foul play was involved, it has been documented how rough Immigration can be towards people in their care, with for example “being subdued” leading to death in the Suraj Case earlier this year. Since Immigration (aka “Japan’s Bouncers”) still hasn’t come clean about what happened there, this is yet another case worth mentioning on  JT article follows, courtesy of Kevin. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
    Ailing Kansai arrival dies after interrogation, bid to flee

    OSAKA — A 55-year-old African man complaining of illness who arrived at Kansai airport Sunday evening with a Belgian passport died after a lengthy interrogation and escape attempt, immigration officials said Monday.

    The man, whose name is being withheld by authorities, landed at Kansai International Airport from Ghana via Dubai at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday. Saying he felt ill, he was put in a wheelchair and taken to the immigration line upon arrival, according to the officials.

    He refused to cooperate with immigration officials, who couldn’t determine why he was in Japan, and was taken to the airport immigration office for further questioning, said immigration official Yuichi Suzuki.

    Immigration officials said his passport appeared valid and no suspicious substances were found in his luggage. At around 9:30 p.m., after nearly three hours of questioning, the man no longer appeared to need a wheelchair.

    At about 10:30 p.m., Suzuki said, the man suddenly tried to flee the immigration office and was subdued by police and immigration officials.

    He stopped moving and collapsed and an ambulance was called, but he died about an hour after arriving at a hospital in the city of Izumisano, about 15 minutes from the airport.

    13 Responses to “Japan Times: Another NJ death in Japanese Immigration custody while being “subdued”; details as yet unclear”

    1. Johnny Says:

      Sounds like the guy wasn’t well, and rather than get him medical attention, they decided to ‘interrogate’ him.
      Maybe I’m jumping the gun, but sounds like yet another suspicious death, which immigration is trying to sweep under the carpet as per usual.

    2. Giant Panda Says:

      After nearly four hours of questioning, the man suddenly tried to flee the immigration office. Who can blame him? I wonder if in all that time (bearing in mind he had just gotten off a gruelling international flight) they so much as offered him a glass of water or a snack, or let him use the bathroom.

      — Do we have any precedent for that not happening? If not, then let’s refrain from speculating.

    3. Rachel Says:

      Oh dear. Why not take the poor man to a hospital and interrogate him once they got the all clear from the doctors? His ‘refusal to cooperate’ is worth looking into as well, especially since the article states there was [apparently] nothing wrong with his luggage and travel documents. I wonder if it’s not just a case of miscommunication.

      Speaking of mistreatment by Immigration officials and ‘bouncers’, has the investigation in the Suraj case even produced anything in the end? The last news I remember reading said that autopsy results were inconclusive, and that was all.

    4. The Shark Says:

      According to the Japan Times is it not clear what the problem actually was:

      “with a Belgian passport”
      “Immigration officials said his passport appeared valid and no suspicious substances were found in his luggage”

      >> EU passport holders can enter Japan without a visa. So, what was the problem?

      About his death:
      If I were a journalist I guess I would call this a case of “Sudden immigration death syndrome” because it has similarities to SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome):

      1) the death is sudden (“he died about an hour after arriving at a hospital”)
      2) the death cannot be explained

    5. Jim Says:

      I think a situation where a guy who claimed to need a wheelchair 3 hours later started to run and had no stated reason for coming to Japan, then spontaneously died, sounds a lot like drugs. I suspect we will learn that an autopsy reveals he OD’ed on cocaine when the plastic bag exploded in his stomach during his mad dash. If not, if some foul play, totally sorry and unforgivable by immigration.

      However, from what we do know so far, it seems disrespectful and inappropriate to me to analogize his situation to that of a long-term resident husband of a Japanese woman unlawfully forced to leave his love and his life and then killed brutally by immigration officers on his way out.

      — And from what we do know so far, it seems disrespectful and inappropriate to analogize his situation with a drug dealer. The guy is dead. We should know more why. We should know more about Suraj too. But nobody’s at Immigration is going to be talking unless we raise the questions and publicize these cases.

    6. Shayne Bowden Says:

      Imagine the public and media outcry if it was a Japanese national dying while in custody overseas. Double standards plain and simple again.

    7. Max Says:

      Shayne, as once a Japanese colleague of mine explained me, Japanese ancestors were farmers so their nature is peaceful and not prone to commit crimes. We, NJ, westerns, mainly were hunters so we are aggressive and more prone to commit crimes.
      You ask this question to Japanese and while you get a smile as tatemae you can be sure they cannot conceive such a situation.

      Immigration officials and police officials in general have the same strategy: initial emotional assault to get all the information from people right away. We are leaving in a country where people think to not to tell the truth or to hide things is a virtue, that’s why we always read about days and days of interrogatories with suspects.

      In this case the intial emotional assault to get information was too much.
      I doubt we will get additional details about this story.

    8. Mike Says:

      “Shayne, as once a Japanese colleague of mine explained me, Japanese ancestors were farmers so their nature is peaceful and not prone to commit crimes. We, NJ, westerns, mainly were hunters so we are aggressive and more prone to commit crimes.”

      What B.S. Their ancestors were of different caste, some farmer, some merchant etc, and the samurai were not peaceful people. Its why karate and all the other forms of martial arts evolved here, not because of peaceful people. Thats why japanese are so guarded and where tatemae comes from. we can see residue of it today with bullying and aggressive behavoir during WW2. That one gets a laugh.

    9. jon Says:

      Mike, I think the Japanese person spouting this mythology to Shane was referring to a legendary golden age Japan of 1500 years ago or more, of which little is known conveniently, allowing beloved stereotypes to come into the discussion.

      As all of us cynics know, this is also why We Japanese have intestines different from westerners, due to the different diet of several hundred years ago so no we can’t buy your beef, rice etc.

    10. Don Udon Says:

      The guy OD’ed on capsules of drugs he had swallowed. [iyami deleted]

      関空で急死のベルギー人 覚醒剤飲み込み入国か
      2010.7.29 13:16




      — Not confirmed yet. Read the headline. 覚醒剤飲み込み入国か And the rest of the article while you’re at it. Anyway, give us a cause of death so we can rule out foul play, is the point.

    11. Simon Says:

      The rest of the article confirms what Don said. [iyami deleted]



      Both of these are “this happened” sentences, not “this might have happened” sentences.

    12. vincent Says:

      Also Belgian press mentioned today OD. The man was apparently smuggling drugs via small plastic bags in his stomach:

      Ghanese Belg die overleed op Japanse luchthaven, smokkelde drugs
      vrijdag 30 juli 2010, 06u48Bron: afpAuteur: mtm

      De 55-jarige Ghanese Belg die in de nacht van zondag op maandag overleed op de luchthaven van het Japanse Osaka (Kansai), is gestorven aan een overdosis.

      Waarschijnlijk scheurde een van de zakjes drugs die hij ingeslikt had, open in zijn maag. Dat werd vrijdag vernomen uit diplomatieke bron.

      De Belg was vorige vrijdag vanuit Ghana vertrokken en via Dubaï in Osaka geland. De man weigerde aan de immigratie-inspecteur te zeggen wat de reden was van zijn bezoek aan Japan en werd daarom meegenomen voor een ondervraging. Daarop trachtte de man te vluchten. Maar de man zakte in elkaar. Hij werd nog overgebracht naar het ziekenhuis, maar werd daar een uur later dood verklaard.

      ‘Hij werkte niet mee en probeerde te vluchten. Toen we hem vatten, stortte hij in. We brachten hem naar het ziekenhuis waar zijn overlijden vastgesteld werd’, aldus een verantwoordelijke van de immigratiedienst van de luchthaven.

      Volgens de Japanse media voelde de man zich bij aankomst al niet goed omdat hij een rolstoel vroeg.

      Volgens een diplomatieke bron wees de autopsie uit dat hij overleed aan een overdosis en gaat het om een ‘klassiek geval’ waarbij een zakje drugs het begaf in de maag. Het goedje wordt nog geanalyseerd.

      De man had volgens de politie zowel een geldig Belgisch als Ghanees paspoort. Hij verbleef in België waar hij familie heeft. Het lichaam wordt nu gerepatrieerd.

      — Gotcha. Cause of death now clear.

    13. Rachel Says:

      … Did the Japanese-language media report on the autopsy yet? I’m concerned about the spin they might put on the story – it would be worrisome if this case was used as an ‘I told you so!’ from the Japanese police and a reason to strengthen airport interrogations even more.

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