Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation


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Hi Blog. Continuing the farcical Suraj Case, where Immigration authorities were once held responsible for using “illegal excessive force”, asphyxiating a Ghanian deportee with forcible restraint during deportation procedures. The Tokyo High Court has just ruled that nobody is responsible for killing him.

In the ultimate blaming of the victim, the judge, named Takizawa Izumi, essentially ruled it all an issue of heart failure. Just an accident. It was even, quote, “necessary.”  Despite the Japan Times calling his death “brutal” back in 2011.

Clearly human life is cheap if it’s foreign in a Japanese Gaijin Tank.  Once again, NJ in Japan can be killed with impunity (more in “Embedded Racism”, Chapter Six). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


In reversal, Tokyo High Court rules government not responsible for Ghanaian deportee’s death

In a reversal, the Tokyo High Court determined Monday that the government was not responsible for the 2010 death of a Ghanaian alledgedly subjected to excessive force by immigration authorities while being deported.

In overturning a lower court’s ruling, presiding Judge Izumi Takizawa said the level of physical force used by officials to restrain Abubakar Awudu Suraj, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was “not illegal” and even “necessary.”

“Immigration authorities’ effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,” Takizawa said.

“They are not culpable” for his death, the judge concluded.

The ruling overturns an order by the Tokyo District Court in March 2014 that the government pay a combined ¥5 million in compensation to his widow, who is a Japanese citizen, and his mother, who lives in Ghana.

The earlier ruling, which also held immigration officials responsible for Suraj’s death, was believed to be the nation’s first-ever court decision subjecting government officials to damages payments in connection with the death of a non-Japanese they mistreated.


In its 2014 ruling, the Tokyo District Court determined that, contrary to claims by authorities, Suraj had suffocated as a result of being forced into a crouching posture.

Citing the results of an autopsy that revealed the man had a minor heart condition called a cystic tumor of the atrioventricular node, immigration officials had originally blamed his death on a heart attack stemming from the tumor. They said Suraj had “happened to” suffer an attack at precisely the moment he was restrained.

Monday’s ruling said that although it is possible authorities’ use of force triggered an erratic heartbeat that led to his death, the tumor is so rare that there is no way officials could have predicted his death.

Full article at


17 comments on “Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation

  • It is sad, because i was believing that Tokyo High Court could be a real court.
    But on my shoes i can tell that Tokyo High Court is not a court as western do mean.
    My JP assigned lawyer disappeared, so that I went alone at the Tokyo High Court twice, I insisted to the judge I needed a lawyer…

    The judge/s told that I had not needing of a lawyer, then it was enough the daily translator provided by the court (that translator has been charged by the court about 60.000 yen for 1 hour 45 minutes in total. The court chief told me I had the possibility to deal the case as well some Japanese citizens; without a lawyer and personal translator.)

    I told them at the end, this is not a court but like “OLD Mc Donald had a farm” are the people front of me. (recorded hearing)

    Luckily I was not sentenced to deportation.

    This country is really, really a sad place for GAIJIN.

    No way to host Olympic games at all under UN requirements, but for run-and-go tourist it may be different.

  • This is why most if not all NJ here have absolutely no faith in the legal system here. Because this has happened time and time again, so when NJ get killed here it just doesn’t matter. The kangaroo court strikes again in so called democracy japan. I honestly felt this was going to happen so it doesn’t surprise me any more but its just another sad example of like here for NJ. Maybe we need to start NJ lifes matter protest like they have a Blacks life matter protests in the US.

  • “effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,”

    It did NOT go smoothly though, did it?

  • The strange thing is, I thought that over-stayers, once arrested…

    (usually due to the naive, dangerous, actions of: agreeing to stop, agreeing to talk, agreeing to admit nationality, agreeing to show I.D., all merely because some police clown [without an arrest warrant] merely requested in a strong way, and because the victim didn’t have the sufficient law-knowledge & strong-confidence & language-ability to scare the original probable-cause-lacking officer away right at the beginning, which is why I often re-post the various refusal techniques)

    …are then sent to the Deportation Jail (at Shinagawa, for example), and then are NOT physically forced to leave, I have read about folks there who REFUSE the daily strong requests to please sign this paper agreeing to get on a plane on and be deported.

    Meaning, even though the Deportation Jail officers WANT the folks to sign that paper and be taken to the airport, the surprising fact always seemed to remain: Japan’s deportation laws are actually quite weak, if there are folks in the Deportation Jail continuing to refuse, for months and even years, to agree to be deported.

    So, does anybody here know: what do the laws of Japan actually state about those over-stayers who choose to stay in the Deportation Jail for years (maybe even forever)? When DOES the state get to suddenly FORCE the over-stayer to get on a plane? Does anyone know the laws about voluntary deportation versus forced deportation?

    And specifically in this case of Mr. Abubakar Awudu Suraj, rest in peace, before the immigration officers physically forced him onto the plane, tied him up too tight, and even forced a towel in his mouth suffocating him, which of course could cause anyone to have a heart attack while suffocating, DID the immigration officers back at the Deportation Jail actually manage to FIRST coerce Mr. Suraj into signing the “voluntary deportation” contract or not? That’s an important question I would have made sure to look into, if I had been the widowed wife’s lawyer.

    Anyway, this evil Judge Izumi Takizawa judge seems to be doing some kind of illegal reversal, since let’s remember what the original ruling Judge stated, “Their effort to restrain him crossed the line to such an extent it can never be defended as necessary and reasonable,” presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said, slamming their act as “dangerous” and “illegal.” Prior to takeoff, officials bound Mr. Suraj’s arms and legs, stuffed a towel in his mouth and bent him forcibly forward, cutting off his air supply.

  • And oh yeah, let’s remember, those same immigration officers, after having killed Mr. Suraj through suffocation, they then attempted (unsuccessfully) to coerce the Airplane pilot TO ILLEGALLY TAKE OFF ANYWAY with this dead body strapped to the chair!

    — Source?

  • “After Sraj’s death, the Immigration Bureau stopped deporting individuals against their will.

    However, from July 2013, the bureau began chartering planes for forced deportations of individuals in groups, a major change from the past practice of deporting individuals one at a time on commercial flights.

    Human rights groups have criticized the resumption of deportations without consent on the grounds the life and the will of the deportees are being ignored.”

    That’s from the Asahi article posted at

    That first sentence in quotes above sounded good: the action of “only deportations with consent.”

    But then the second sentence says they then began “hidden-from-public FORCED deportations.” Uh-oh.

    And the third sentence there makes clear that they indeed ARE doing deportations without consent.

    If there is a law on the books, somebody needs to take the illegally immigration officers to court.

    Oh, but wait, first you must become a victim to sue, and you must also be still residing in Japan too.

    So, I guess zero living victims can ever return to sue, after such an illegal deportation without consent.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Some good comments above.
    We have seen NJ from different nationalities killed due to negligence and or due to bad practice (both combined with unhealthy doses of racial paranoia) over the last few years, and yet where are these NJ’s national governments? Why aren’t they raising hell and slamming the Japanese authorities in public? After all, we all remember how the UN Human Rights Commission laughed openly at the Japanese delegate who claimed that Japan was ‘a world leader’ in the field of human rights (‘Shut up! Shut up! Why you laughing?’- remember that?), so NJ governments ARE aware of Japan’s massive racism based short-comings, so why the deafening silence on these issues?

    Maybe the NJ governments are too easily swayed by brown paper envelopes, or the prospect of Japan lending them the money for infrastructure projects, or by threats of Japanese companies pulling out (as they have threatened the UK), or maybe TPP is so important (US)?

    I think that until Japan is so economically spent that there it has no geo-political importance, no money to flash around buying compliance and acquiescence, our NJ governments will continue to pretend that they don’t know how badly Japan abuses human rights.

  • I can barely even stand to read this story… it’s beyond disgusting. I hope the claim about the illegal attempt to get him taken on board the airplane already dead and tied to a chair isn’t true. I worry it is. Will check back to see if there is a source posted.

  • @Debito – I have a clear memory of reading an English newspaper article stating that (AFTER having his legs and arms strapped to the airplane chair, AFTER having a towel forced into his mouth, AFTER having then had his head forced down to his knees with the towel still in his mouth AND an extra strap holding him down in this hard to breath position, AFTER Mr. Suraj was thus killed by the act of being forced into this hard to breath position WITH the towel still forcibly being in his mouth (a combination which of course has a high chance of causing suffocation, which the authorities claim has no connection with the concurrent/subsequent heart attack) the immigration officers THEN tried to pressure the pilot to “take off anyway” with the now dead body still strapped in that position.

    So no, to the 8th comment poster, I didn’t read or say that the immigration officers tried to bring an already dead Mr. Suraj onto the plane, I read and said that he was accidentally killed ON the plane (which we all know) and that the added insult was that the immigration officers attempted to simply send away this problem they created, the dead body of Mr. Suraj strapped with his head between his knees and a towel stuffed in his mouth, by “strongly requesting” the airplane pilot to continue the flight anyway and thus have the arrival country take care of the rest.

    I will search deeply tonight for the written online newspaper source of my clear memory about that.

    I’m pretty sure I will find it and post it, and/or at the very least someone will post their memory of reading it too.

    If none of us are able to find and post that source, then I will have to apologize and we will have to delete my claim, but my memory is quite clear on this “added insult to injury” illegal attempt to make the body disposal some other country’s problem.

  • @ Anonymous,

    Yes, I also remember reading that the immigration officers were involved in attempting to force the aircrew to take off with the (at that time deceased) Mr. Suraj.

  • @All – OK, here is the “continue the flight with this dead body strapped to the chair anyway” event which stuck in my mind:

    “The pilot on board the Egypt Air Flight, which was to carry Mr. Suraj to Ghana, upon realizing that he was dead, REJECTED the request of the Japanese Immigration even when THEY INSISTED that the remains should be repatriated.”

    “If it were not for the help of the Egyptian Air Pilot and Mr. Suraj’s Japanese wife, nobody would have known about his death.”

    “Japanese Immigration Officers had even managed to forge an International Travel Certificate to enable them transport him without the knowledge of the Ghanaian Embassy in Japan.”

    So, Mr. Awudu Abubakar “Mac Barry” Samad Suraj was brought to an airplane by Japanese Immigration Officers, he WAS killed (criminally negligent homicide/manslaughter) through extremely painful and stressful illegal suffocation resulting in the Japanese Immigration Officers standing over the dead human still strapped to the airplane chair AND THEN THE JAPANESE IMMIGRATION OFFICERS INSISTING that the Airplane pilot should continue the flight anyway, with the dead body strapped to the chair, an illegal request which the Airplane pilot refused to comply with.

    Rest in Peace.

    — Thanks for all the sources, everyone.

  • But the victim’s wife had already WON the case in court. The case stated here was an APPEAL by the state. Let’s get that straight right away. Does anyone know what the scope of review is for an appellate court in Japan? I ask this because it’s fundamental to knowing how they viewed this case.

    For example, in the US, the scope of review would be limited to a legal determination, not a factual one. So if the lower court had already determined the facts of the case, the higher court would be forced to accept those facts, and could only overturn matters of law. So for example, if the lower court had already determined the cause of death as being excessive force, the appellate court would accept that as fact. The appellate court would then decide whether the lower court’s interpretation of the law was correct, not whether its interpretation of the facts were correct.

    Which boggles my mind that an appellate court in Japan could completely change the facts that were already determined in the trial at the lower court. It’s like the judge simply rewrote history, just because he didn’t like the facts that had already been determined. Why even have a trial at the lower court? Why not just allow cases to go straight to supreme court, if a lower court’s determination of facts serves no purpose? Japan’s legal system makes absolutely no sense. I don’t feel comfortable with this at all, and I’m sure most people following this case don’t either. There’s got to be something we can do.

  • @ AI #13. One lawyer friend comments:

    My understanding is that Japan is a civil law jurisdiction — not a common law country with stare decisis. So the courts are not bound by rulings from higher courts. And trials can be de novo on the evidence on each level of appeal. Other civil law countries work the same way — even in criminal matters. Note the Amanda Knox case for example. She was acquitted at trial and convicted on appeal with a reinterpretation of the facts.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    “so the courts are not bound by rulings from higher courts.”

    Debito, did you lawyer friend mean to say “lower courts” here, or am I misunderstanding?

    — Yes, I think he meant lower courts.

  • @debito #14

    Ok, well that explains it. Regardless, I feel very uncomfortable with this case. It sets a very dangerous precedence. And imagine the amount of money his wife has had to spend to seek justice. Is this a second-level appeal? There’s still the supreme court to appeal to isn’t there?

    — Yes. But the Supreme Court rarely takes on cases like these because it only rules on “Constitutional issues”, and if it did, it rarely rules against the High Court. So the case is essentially closed.


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