Reuters : Niculas Fernando died at a Tokyo immigration detention center sometime between 9:33 a.m. and 10:44 a.m. on November 22, 2014, according to the coroner. But it wasn’t until shortly after 1 p.m. that day that guards realized something was badly wrong – even though Fernando had been moved to an observation cell monitored via closed-circuit television after complaining of sharp chest pain. An inmate had to alert the guards before they rushed into Fernando’s cell and tried to revive him. […] He was the fourth person to die in Japan’s immigration detention system in 13 months. In total, 12 people have died in immigration detention since 2006, including four suicides. In 2015, 14 detainees tried to kill or harm themselves at the detention center where Fernando died, according to data from the facility.
A Reuters investigation into the circumstances surrounding Fernando’s death, including dozens of interviews with detainees, immigration officials and doctors, revealed serious deficiencies in the medical treatment and monitoring of Japan’s immigration detention centers. Guards with scant medical training make critical decisions about detainees’ health. Doctors visit some of the country’s main detention centers as infrequently as twice a week. And on weekends there are no medical professionals on duty at any of the immigration detention facilities, which held more than 13,600 people in 2014. Three of the four deaths in detention between October 2013 and November 2014, including Fernando’s, occurred when there were no doctors on duty. Like Fernando, another one of the detainees died while in an observation cell.
Japan’s immigration system is under increasing strain. As a torrent of refugees pours into Europe, Japan also has record numbers of people landing on its shores in search of refuge. As of June last year, it had 10,830 asylum applications under review – small by Europe’s standards, but a new high for Japan, a nation that has long been reluctant to take in outsiders. In February, more than 40 detainees went on hunger strike at a facility in Osaka to protest their conditions [As they did in 2010, to little change — Ed.]. Their main complaint: Poor medical care. […]
The Justice Ministry has not made public the findings of the investigation into the case nor released them to Fernando’s family. In response to a public disclosure request, Reuters received a copy of the national Immigration Bureau’s report from March last year. It was heavily redacted. Under a section titled “Problems,” every line had been blacked out.
Here’s another interesting article from Kansai Scene magazine this month, this time on the issue of refugees and Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”) in Japan. Excerpt:
Joseph isn’t his real name. He’s afraid of what theconse- quences might be if Japanese Immigration finds out that that he is speaking with the press. There’s a chance he would be sent back to the Immigrant Detention Center. His appeal might be denied, which would lead todepor- tation. Deportation means arrest as soon as his plane hits African soil. ‘Arrest’ in his country usually means disappearing forever. He needs to stay in Japan, and to stay here he has to remain invisible. So, he stays invisible.
Historically, Japan has been far from welcoming to refugees. Since 1990, 344 people have been given refugee status. In 2009, only thirty asylum-seekers were accepted, out of 1,388 applicants; an acceptance rate of 2.2 percent. Despite signing the 1951 UN Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981 and 1982, respectively, the government essentially keeps the borders closed to the dispossessed, while donating enough money to the UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) to justify their claim to be a humanitarian nation.
The issue, however, is not only the overwhelming denial of applications, but also the total lack of a safety net for those who do arrive on Japanese soil. It is difficult to obtain informa-tion at the airport, and some who try are sent to detention centers or are deported immediately for lack of proper documentation. Because of the language barrier, many new arrivals are unaware that a refugee application process exists at all. They simply overstay their visas until they are caught by immigration and arrested.
The detention centers are essentially prisons. Up to ten people share a room with one toilet. They are each given five blankets for a bed, and one or two hours of exercise a day. Those applying for refugee status are mixed with criminals awaiting deportation. Joseph spent almost a year in the Ibaraki detention center after being arrested for overstaying his visa. It was upon arriving at the center that he first learned of the potential to be declared a refugee, and began the application process. His application was refused within a month, and he started his appeal. In the meantime, he sat in his cell, keeping to himself. “The inmates are chaotic,” he told me. “[They are] from prison and awaiting deportation. They will do anything. They know they are going back.”…
Daily Yomiuri reports: Two state-run immigration “Gaijin Tanks” (where overstayers await deportation) failed to have a full-time doctor on staff despite ministerial requirements. Maintaining adequate medical and health services at detention facilities of any kind is stipulated in the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.
Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law. A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.
But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.
What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago. The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.
It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005: “After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”
Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold? Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…
Table of Contents:
1) Out in Paperback: Textbook “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books) July 2016 in time for Fall Semester classes: $49.99
2) April 15, 1996: Twenty years of Debito.org. And counting.
3) Debito’s latest publication in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4)
4) Terrie Lloyd on why Abenomics is a “failure”: lack of essential structural reforms
5) Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?
6) Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)
7) JT Interview: Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Mutou picks on Rio 2016, arrogantly cites “safe Japan” mantra vs international terrorism
8 ) Nate Nossal essay on how free enterprise and small-business establishment in Japan is stifled
DIRTY ROTTEN POLITICS
9) Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
10) MOJ: Japan sees record registered foreign residents, 2.23 million in 2015; but watch J media once again underscore their criminality
11) Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!
12) Onur update: Ibaraki Pref. Police lying on posters requiring hotels to inspect and photocopy all foreign passports; gets police to change their posters!
13) NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport
14) JT: Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to Anti-Subversive Activities Law; now, how about violent Rightists?
15) Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report
16) Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged
17) Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)
… and finally…
18) Japan Times JBC 97 May 2, 2016 excerpt: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments”
Debito.org Reader Onur updates his post here last month about discrimination at Japanese hotels being, in one case, coin-operated (where all “foreign guests” are unlawfully forced to provide photocopies of their passports, moreover at their own expense) at police behest. Now he gets to the bottom of police chicanery in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he catches them in an outright lie. Three lies in one police notice, as a matter of fact:
Onur: I wrote my Japanese address on the guest registration form during check-in [at Mimatsu Hotel, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture]. However, the reception asked for my passport and said that they must copy my ID. I asked the reason. They said that it is the rule of the hotel(!) and also the law of Japan to copy the ID of all foreigners. I said that according to law it is not necessary and they are not allowed to copy my card, but they insisted they must copy, showing me a poster on the wall by the Mito City Police Department Security Division saying that “Japanese law requires that we ask every foreign guest to present their passport, photocopy of which we keep on file during their stay with us”. I said that I will inform this incident to Mito City Public Health Department (保健所), which has authority over the hotels regarding the implementation of laws. I enclose the poster. After visiting both the Public Health Department and the Mito Police, I had phone call from the Public Health Department. They said they went to the Mimatsu Hotel to check it and saw that the poster on the wall of the hotel has changed. It seems that the police department printed a new poster and distributed to all hotels only in a few hours after I left the police department! They said the new poster clearly states “foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan”, so complies the regulations. They said they informed the hotel about the laws and regulations and warned the hotel to not to the same mistake again.
COMMENT: It would seem that, according to a number of past Debito.org posts on Ibaraki Prefectural Police posters and activities, the officially-sponsored xenophobia runs deep there. Put a nasty Gaijin Detention Center there, allow the police to project their bunker mentalities by lying on public posters, and you get panicky residents who sic cops on “people who look suspicious” because they look foreign (even if they are Japanese). Are you seeing what happens when you give the police too much power to target people? Ibaraki Prefecture is developing into a nice case study. Well done Onur for doing all this great detective work. I did some investigative work like this more than a decade ago. Remarkable that despite having this pointed out again and again, the NPA continues to lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce.
Table of Contents:
1) Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example
2) Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
3) Debito.org quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid
BLACKFACE AND BLACKOUTS
4) Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan
5) Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article
6) Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.
7) Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable
… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times JBC 84 Feb. 5, 2015, “At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall”
Getting back to another issue in Japan that has long needed fixing — the judiciary — here are some overseas experts talking in a comparative perspective about Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks) that they liken to “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse than prisons, because they don’t come under the same judicial oversight for minimum standards that Japanese prisons do, and detainees, unlike the criminally-incarcerated, do not have a “prison sentence” with a limited time-frame attached to it. Not to mention Gaijin Tanks add a second layer of incarceration for NJ only, where even the NJ exonerated of a criminal offense get released from prison only to wind up in a Gaijin Tank for “overstaying” the visa they couldn’t renew because they were incarcerated. For people in Gaijin Tanks, detention can be perpetual, and that’s before we get to the horrible, even lethal, treatment they suffer from while in custody. Read on:
JT: When British incarceration inspection expert Hindpal Singh Bhui last month paid his first visit to a Japanese immigration detention center, his overriding initial impression was that it looked like a prison. “The fact that if someone comes to visit detainees, the starting point is that you’re behind a glass screen and you can’t touch someone — that feels quite restrictive,” Bhui, team leader for London-based Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, told The Japan Times during a recent visit to Japan. “It’s something which perhaps is a prison-style approach and which was surprising to see in immigration detention centers,” Bhui said of his visit to the government facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Established in 1982, HMIP is an independent inspectorate with unchallenged authority to probe state-run institutions, from prisons to immigration and military detention centers. The British system stands in contrast with Japan’s immigration inspectorate, which is poorly funded and regarded as having little independence from the government, Japanese lawyers say…
Table of Contents:
SPECIAL ON THE DPRK SPY KIM HYON HUI JAPAN VISIT: THE BIG CON
1) North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case
2) UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit from a friend in the know
3) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3: Kim uses Japan’s “perpetual victimhood” to her advantage
OTHER BIG CONS
4) Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive
5) Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime
6) More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”.
(UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)
7) Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer
8 ) Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.
9) Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death
10) NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi
11) Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.
12) JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them
13) Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel
14) Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means
15) AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad
16) IMADR Connect Mag: UN CERD concerns and recommendations 2010 for the GOJ; rinse and repeat
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
17) NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961
18) New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese
19) Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.
20) Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates
21) AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office
22) Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him
… and finally…
23) My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons
Here we have JIPI’s Sakanaka-san in the Japan Times speaking out from a position of authority again in favor of NJ, this time regarding Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks for visa overstayers) and their conditions. As has been discussed here before, Gaijin Tanks are not prisons; they do not fall under the penal code for incarceration conditions, there is no arraignment before a judge or court sentence to fulfill, and there is no time limit to how long you can be incarcerated for visa violations in Japan. This has deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of detainees, of course. So Mr S. is quite magnanimously (given Japan’s racially-profiling law enforcement) offering a compromise limit of one year behind bars. Think there will be any takers?
Japan Times: Illegal residents should not be held in detention for more than one year because any longer causes too much stress, a former chief of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said, noting extended incarceration led to two hunger strikes at detention centers this year, one of which followed suicides…
There is no limit on how long the government can hold foreign residents deemed to be in Japan illegally. The Immigration Bureau’s Enforcement Division said 71 inmates out of 442 being held in three detention centers in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures had been confined for more than a year as of May 31.
Dozens of detainees went on hunger strikes lasting more than a week at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, in May and at the West Japan Immigration Control Center in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, in March. They were demanding better treatment, including limiting their incarceration to six months… The hunger strikes failed to win any concessions…
Table of Contents:
THE CHINESE ARE COMING
1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly
2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality
3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it
4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police
THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT
5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration
6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson
7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)
8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!
9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest
10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free
11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.
12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture
13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media
… and finally …
14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS
Table of Contents:
1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier
7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable
AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
… then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?
… and finally …
16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago
Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.
Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted’s] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.
Let me forward something to you about conditions in Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (better known as “Gaijin Tanks”) — an activist named Sano-san who wants to draw long-overdue attention to widespread abuse of NJ in these notorious extralegal prisons. Link to Japan Times article substantiating Sano-san’s claims follows her email. Reporters, be in touch with her (or me at email@example.com) if you want more information.
The extralegal powers of Japan’s police forces are atrocious, and they are especially bad when people fall completely outside the legal system (as in, NJ detainees not tried and convicted criminals, with a term-limited sentence and minimum prison conditions as stipulated by law; these are people who can be held indefinitely in crowded conditions, without oversight, access to exercise, medical care, hygiene, etc.) They just happen to be NJ (because Gaijin Tanks cannot hold Japanese) and thus remain shrouded in even more secrecy than usual (as people assume they’re full of riffraff trying to come in and take advantage of Rich Citadel Japan) and operate under the media radar. Trying to remedy that.
Sano-san: Ibaraki Detention Center is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.
Japan Times: Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates
Lots of frustration out there about the upcoming reinstitution of fingerprint laws. This blog entry offers an assessment of what can be done about it. Not much, but not nothing. Organize through Amnesty Int’l/SMJ this October 27, even crib from two protest letters included. Civil disobedience is not out of the question, either. Details here.
1) DEBITO’S WINTER SCHEDULE–ANYONE WANT ME TO SPEAK SOMEWHERE?
2) US EMBASSY: RANDOM GAIJIN CHECKPOINTS NOW OFFICIAL TOKYO NPA POLICY
3) MAINICHI: FOREIGN CRIME FEARMONGERING AS OFFICIAL GOVT POLICY
4) ASAHI DULLS ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF “GAIJIN IC CARD” ARTICLE
5) FUTURE PM?: LDP KINGPIN MACHIMURA SPEAKS AT MY UNIVERSITY
6) KYODO: GIFU FIRMS EMPLOY FOREIGN CHILDREN “AT PARENTS’ REQUEST”
7) YOMIURI: IMMIG’S “GAIJIN TANKS” VIOLATE U.N. DETENTION GUIDELINES
8) ASIA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY ADDED TO UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST
9) JAPAN IRONICALLY KVETCHES ABOUT FOREIGN CRIME EXTRADITION PROBLEMS
10) ECONOMIST: ALBERTO FUJIMORI UPDATE
11) GREG CLARK IRONICALLY KVETCHES ABOUT IDEOLOGICAL BULLY PULPITING
12) 2 CHANNEL: MAINICHI DOES GANTAN TOKUSHUU
13) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGN ON OKAZAKI INTERNET CAFE
and finally… I AM NOW OFFICIALLY “ARUDOU DEBITO