Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable

Asahi: Public prosecutors will drop their case against senior officials from the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau over the death of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration detention facility, according to sources. Wishma Sandamali, 33, died in March 2021 at a facility run by the bureau, in a case that sparked widespread outcry over her mistreatment.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office launched an investigation into whether the senior officials in charge at the time had committed murder or negligence as a guardian resulting in death, responding to criminal complaints against them from Wishma’s family and others. Sources said the prosecutors office concluded it cannot establish criminal liability in this case following discussions with another prosecution office that is higher in rank.

COMMENT: We’ve talked about the Sandamali Case here on Debito.org before, as we have the many other cases of death and destruction in Japan’s cruel Detention Centers. One of the reasons they remain so cruel is that they face no accountability, as seen here.  And prosecutors declining to prosecute those who kill foreigners have been discussed at length in my book Embedded Racism, Chapter 6, “A ‘Chinaman’s Chance’ in Japanese Court” (with 2022 updates of more cases, including Sandamali’s, in the Second Edition).

Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.

Japan’s Immigration Bureau Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) are an extra layer of incarceration that only non-citizens must deal with. Regular Wajin Japanese, when detained, arrested, and/or incarcerated, go through Japan’s criminal justice and prison system.  However, because non-citizen detainees cannot renew their visas while in detention, any arrest and incarceration by police increases the probability of detention later in separate Immigration detention facilities (specifically reserved for non-citizen visa overstayers and refugees/asylum seekers). Detainees in these Immigration facilities (nyūkoku kanri sentā) face a different system both in terms of criminal procedure and living conditions.

In terms of living conditions, rights of detainees to adequate food, exercise and living space in Immigration Bureau detention centers are less regulated than in Japanese prisons (which are subject to international oversight regarding standards of favorable treatment). Consequently, inhospitable, unsanitary, and generally unmonitored conditions in these detention centers have occasioned protests both from human rights organizations and from the detainees, in the form of hunger strikes and suicides. Immigration detainees have also suffered and died from their medical conditions being neglected by detention officials, and from the over-prescription of sedatives and painkillers.

In 2021, the senseless death of a Sri Lankan named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, due to medical negligence in a detention center, brought national attention and protest against the GOJ’s treatment of visa overstayers and asylum applicants—and the withdrawal of a bill before the Diet that would have only strengthened the ability for bureaucrats “to keep any foreign national in custody without the approval of a judge”, thus violating constitutional guarantees of due process.

Sources follow. There is no defense for this inhumane extralegal detention system that is killing people through willful negligence simply because they are foreigners incarcerated.  We catalog it all here on Debito.org for the record.

Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged

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.

Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)

Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December. Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters. He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.

This issue deserves more attention. Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored. It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram. Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?

CJ: When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.

Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.

Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.

They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses — everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family…

My SNA VM35: “Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers” (June 20, 2022) including the Sandamali, Suraj, Fernando, Okafor, Ekei etc. Cases.

News Headline: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman.”

SNA: In August 2020, a Sri Lanka national named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali was arrested for overstaying her visa, and detained in a Nagoya Immigration Detention Center. She had arrived in Japan in 2017, but her student visa was cancelled in 2019 because she couldn’t afford tuition fees. While in detention, she opted not to return to Sri Lanka, reportedly due to reduced flights during Covid and an abusive boyfriend back home.

During her seven months in custody, however, Sandamali’s health steadily declined due to a stress-induced stomach condition. According to the Straits Times, Sandamali “was vomiting blood in her final days, and was so weak that she had no control of her arms and legs. The immigration authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to medical expert advice to put her on an intravenous drip or to grant her provisional release to ease her stress. A report by public broadcaster NHK suggested that officials tend to suspect malingering for minor illnesses in their reluctance to grant provisional release.” […]

On March 6, 2021, Sandamali died in her cell, aged 33. By the time Sandamali’s family received her body, “her skin was wrinkled like an old person, and it was stuck firmly to her bones.” In November 2021, Sandamali’s family lodged a criminal complaint against officials at the Nagoya facility, accusing them of murder through willful negligence.

Unfortunately, as noted above, last week the Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the Sandamali case, citing an inability to establish criminal liability or even a cause of death, blaming it on “multiple factors.” Multiple factors indeed. Sandamali’s case is not unprecedented. According to CNN, since 1997 at least 27 foreign detainees have died in Japan’s Immigration detention centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks,” because they detain foreigners only).

The main factor here is the cruel and unusual punishment by public officers, expressly forbidden under Article 36 of the Constitution. Yet nobody has ever been held criminally liable for foreigner deaths in detention. That’s what makes Japan’s Gaijin Tanks so cruel and unusual. Let’s consider a few more cases, then talk about the system that killed them…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2022

Table of Contents:
MURDER DECRIMINALIZED
1) Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable
2) Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

OTHER UNFAIRNESS
3) MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners
4) Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

FULL TEXT OF OLDER SNA COLUMNS ARCHIVED
5) SNA VM9: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (full text)
6) Debito’s SNA VM8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (full text)

… and finally …
7) My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

JT: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strange institution. It’s responsible for the way Japan is perceived abroad, and it decides who receives the opportunity to immigrate. But its jurisdiction over the lives of immigrants largely vanishes when they reach Japan. It’s also the most influential agency that does not play a meaningful role in developing the government’s legislative agenda. Senior MoFA officials can only watch in dismay as less prestigious agencies, including some of Japan’s most corrupt, devise legislation that erodes the rights of immigrants and damages Japan’s international reputation.

A proposed overhaul of Japan’s detention system, scuttled in 2021 after the death of detainee Wishma Rathnayake and a resulting wave of protests, was especially unpopular with Japanese diplomats. The Kishida administration has revived it anyway, with parliamentary debate anticipated this summer. Until recently, MoFA relied on the press to guard against legislative aggression toward immigrants, quietly passing sensitive information to reporters who covered the Ministry of Justice, which enforces immigration law.

According to MoFA officials who acted as my sources during the 10 years I covered immigration, their current reluctance to cooperate with journalists is related to the sense, among the agency’s staff, that the media has become “much louder, but much less effective” on issues of immigration.

The officials I spoke with traced this problem to 2019, when a detainee starved to death at a detention center in Nagasaki, following a four-week hunger strike, named Gerald “Sunny” Okafor… Meanwhile, the press has helped to turn Okafor’s death into a non-story, by disseminating state propaganda that diminishes the death’s significance, then responding to that propaganda with opinion essays instead of investigations.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 19, 2021

Table of Contents:
THE EARLY FALLOUT FROM THE OLYMPICS
1) SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.
PRELUDE TO THE TIGHTENED-SECURITY AFTERMATH
2) Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.
3) Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.
4) Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?
… and finally …
5) My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 23, 2019

Table of Contents:
1) Kyodo: Japan celebrates its South American Japanese diaspora. Praising them for doing what it complains NJ immigrants to Japan do. (Like take Nippon Foundation money to sterilize Peruvian indigenous peoples?)
2) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
3) US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

… and finally…
4) Japan Times JBC 116: “‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice” (on how Trump’s alienation of critics of color is standard procedure in Japan), July 24, 2019

Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling

REUTERS: A Nigerian man died in a Japanese immigration detention center this week, an official said on Thursday, bringing to an end a hunger strike an activist group said was intended to protest his being held for more than three years. It was the 15th death since 2006 in a system widely criticized over medical standards, the monitoring of detainees and how guards respond to a medical emergency…

RINK, a group supporting detainees at the center, told Reuters the Nigerian had been on hunger strike to protest his lengthy detention. Another 27 foreigners are on hunger strike at a detention center in Ushiku, northeast of Tokyo, said a separate group supporting detainees at that facility. Some of them have gone without food for 47 days, said Kimiko Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the group… Two other men at Ushiku have been detained for five years, she said. “The reality of a lengthy detention is nothing but a human rights violation,” Tanaka said.

COMMENT: Dovetailing with last week’s blog entry about how Japan’s new “open door” visa programs violate basic human rights, here’s the old classic “closed door” policies aimed to punish bureaucratic transgressions by perpetually detaining people under conditions that don’t fall under standards for sufficient monitoring (because technically, they’re not “prisons”). Policywise, they’re meant to be a deterrent — part of a separate judicial track for foreigners in Japan with fewer human rights (full details on this in “Embedded Racism” Ch. 6).  Separate and lethal.

Again, given how Japan’s ethnostate policies are an inspiration for xenophobes and racial supremacists worldwide, I would argue that these longstanding inhumane “Gaijin Tanks” are a working model for the “concentration camps” (the political term of debate in the US these days) for detainees along the American southern border.  Except politicians in Japan don’t have the cojones to call them anything but benign-sounding “detention centers” — after all, who in any position of power cares about the plight of foreigners in Japan?  

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

Table of Contents:
VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL
1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.
2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation
3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE
5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment
6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones
7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey
9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

… and finally…
10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ.  The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate.  Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens).  Au contraire, they’re still part of what Debito.org has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.  

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message.  It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again.  Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese.  There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children! For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
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)

QUESTIONABLE ECONOMICS
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”

Onur update: Ibaraki Pref. Police lying on posters requiring hotels to inspect and photocopy all foreign passports; gets police to change their posters!

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.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ON DOMESTIC DISSENT
1) ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”
2) Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases
3) JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven
4) O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”
TRAGIC UPDATES
5) Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation
6) ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools
7) JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)
8 ) JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!
TERRORISTIC XENOPHOBIA
9) Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.
10) Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?
TRYING TO HELP
11) Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions
12) Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance
13) HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?
14) Ben Shearon on RetireJapan, helping people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, readying for retirement
… and finally…
15) My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016

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

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.

COMMENT: This case has become a farce. 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).

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 3, 2015

Table of Contents:
JAPARTHEID
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”

Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.

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…

AFP: Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at J detention center while doctor at lunch

Here’s another long-standing issue within Japan’s criminal justice system — the two-tiered system of incarceration for foreigners only. When one is being detained for a violation of Japan’s criminal code, you have prison for those convicted and the daiyou kangoku interrogation centers for those awaiting conviction (and almost everyone (95%) who is indicted under this system confesses to a crime, thanks to the unsupervised and harsh interrogation techniques). Almost everyone who confesses to a crime (the most-cited figure is >99%) gets convicted and probably goes to prison.

But then there are the detention centers for foreigners with visa issues who can be incarcerated indefinitely. This is unlike Japan’s prison system where 1) there are international standards for incarceration, and 2) there is a maximum limit — as in a prison sentence — to the duration for inmates. Not so Japan’s foreigners. And not so, as you can see below, Japan’s asylum seekers, where yet another NJ has died in custody due to, the article notes below, lax oversight over the health of their detainees.

I bring this up because this case will no doubt soon be forgotten. Like the other issues of violence, unsanitary food leading to hunger strikes and suicides, Immigration brutality leading to an uncharged murder of a detainee, and more. No wonder some people would prefer an overseas refugee camp than come to Japan to languish and perhaps die in a Gaijin Tank. Best to archive it here as yet another brick in the wall.

AFP: An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said Thursday. Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on Oct 9, according to People’s Forum on Burma, a Japan-based NGO headed by a Japanese lawyer.

Citing the 57-year-old’s cousin, the group said Hussin had been complaining of a headache all morning and fell unconscious as he began eating lunch in his cell. Fellow detainees—seven people of different nationalities—called for help because he was vomiting and having spasms, the NGO said. Detention center staff rejected their requests that a doctor be called, saying Hussin was just “having a seizure” and that the duty medic was on his lunch break, the group said, citing detainees who had spoken to the dead man’s cousin.

A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin’s collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the center. Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor’s arrival and 55 minutes after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed. Hussin died in hospital on Oct 14, it said.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 6, 2012

Table of Contents:
TECTONIC SHIFTS
1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”
2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China
3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it
INCREDULITY
4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ
5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service
6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht
7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children
8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration
ROUGH DRAFTS
9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.
10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 30, 2012

Table of Contents:

CAUSES TO CHEER
1) Debito writes the Hokkaido Section in FODOR’S Guidebook on Japan, 20th Edition, out now
2) Japan Times Community Page 10th Anniversary: Vote for your favorite article at JT by May 5
3) JT Community Page 10th Anniversary: Write a Haiku, win a copy of Debito’s HANDBOOK

WEIRD OUTCOMES UNDER JAPAN’S RACIALIZATION PARADIGMS
4) JDG on self-appointed Hanami Vigilantes in Osaka harassing NJ
5) Tsukuba City’s resolution against NJ suffrage passed in 2010, a retrospective in the wake of alarmism
6) Mainichi: JHS teacher arrested for defrauding insurance companies by repeatedly claiming his luggage was stolen by foreigners!
7) Bryant in UCLA Law Review on oppressiveness of Family Registry (koseki) and Household Registry (juuminhyou)
8 ) Cracked.com: Racialized characters in Japanese video games
9) Yomiuri: J population falls record 259,000 in 2011 (as does NJ pop.); Keidanren think tank sees ROK surpassing J GDP by 2030

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50, April 3, 2012: Donald Keene should engage brain before fueling ‘flyjin,’ foreign crime myths

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
TALK OF JAPAN’S FUTURE
1) CNN’s Zakaria: Japan’s economy “has run out of gas”: first trade deficit in 31 years shows J’s decline and “the end of an era”
2) Debito interview with Asia Times: “Overcoming the ‘Japanese Only’ factor”, on human rights and Japan’s future
3) Japan Times FYI Column: “Many angles to acquiring Japanese citizenship”, quotes inter alia Debito

SHOCKS TO THE SYSTEM
4) Nepalese beaten to death in Osaka, 4 assailants arrested in apparent hate crime
5) PS on Gaijin Card Checkpoint at his apartment — Immigration doing door-to-door checks, using physical force (photos included)
6) Shock/Horror on Japanese TV show, where Japanese under new Arizona laws could be treated as foreigners, with ID checks! Kibishii!?
7) Changes to Alien Registration Act July 2012 — NJ to be registered on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates at last

OFFICIAL HARASSMENT OF NJ
8 ) Amnesty International 2002 report on human rights abuses, including extortion and physical abuse, at the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” detention center
9) Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)
10) Mainichi: Transport ministry mulling random body search of 10% of all airport passengers at Narita etc. Random? Not likely.
11) Japan Today: GOJ ministries block foreign firms from helping tsunami-stricken Japanese, using bureaucratic stonewalling

And finally…
12) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 47, January 3, 2012: 2011′s Top 10 Human Rights Issues affecting NJ in Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 6, 2010

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

INTERESTING TANGENTS

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

AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki

AFP: Scores of foreigners in a Japanese immigration detention centre have been on hunger strike for more than a week, demanding to be released and protesting the mysterious death of an African deportee.

Some 70 detainees — many of them Sri Lankans and Pakistanis — have refused food since May 10, also seeking to highlight suicides there by a Brazilian and a South Korean inmate, say their outside supporters.

The protest comes after UN rights envoy Jorge Bustamante in March raised concerns about Japan’s often years-long detentions of illegal migrants, including parents with children as well as rejected asylum seekers…

Human rights activists, lawyers and foreign communities have complained for years about conditions at Ushiku and Japan’s two other such facilities, in the western prefecture of Osaka and in southwestern Nagasaki prefecture.

At Ushiku, about 380 people are detained, with eight or nine inmates living in rooms that measure about 20 square metres (215 square feet), said Tanaka, a member of the Ushiku Detention Centre Problem Study Group.

“They are crammed into tiny segmented rooms that are not very clean, and many contract skin diseases,” she told AFP…

Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International Japan said: “The immigration facilities are supposed to be places where authorities keep foreigners for a short period before deportation.

“But some people have been confined for over two years as a result. The government must introduce a limit to detentions.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Table of Contents:
YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS
1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit
2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus
3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent
4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery
6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?
7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.
8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?
9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

BLOWBACK
10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?
11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote
12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO
13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009
14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)
15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”
16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …

17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet
2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too
3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards
Plus NEWS FLASH on upcoming Japan Times articles
4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant
6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ
7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007
9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.
10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

GOOD NEWS?
11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas
12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN
14) Japanpodshow: Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.

Anonymous on Scott Tucker, murdered in a bar by a Tokyo DJ who got a suspended sentence:

“Now, this is why I’m writing this addendum. Clearly, I knew Scott Tucker. I knew him very well. I drank with him, Japanese-style, at least a hundred times. We drank beer, we ate very good sushi and drank sake; we drank expensive whiskey most foreigners couldn’t, or wouldn’t afford–in keep bottles at very nice, exclusive clubs and snacks in central Tokyo. I never, ever, ever, saw Scott Tucker get belligerent. I never saw him get argumentative, even after polishing off a full bottle, with my help, of pricey Japanese whiskey. The implication that somehow, because of his drunkenness, he was threatening enough to pose a danger to a 154-pound disk jockey is so absurd that it leaves me livid. If I were there, and I were tanked up, and the disk jockey decided to come down and take charge of things, it would make sense. I am not a diplomat: when I’m drunk and unhappy and things are waxing ridiculous, I will throw a few people around. But Scotty, no. No, I’m sorry. Whatever the official account, he was a diplomat. Again, I never saw him belligerent, ever, and I knew him for many, many, years. This is what bothers me about the whole “Official” account; it is simply not accurate, and is stilted towards character assassination and implication that is wholly unjustified and clearly driven by agenda. To think that someone can get a probationary sentence for what amounts to ‘sucker-punching’ a neighbor to death just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t surprise me–as I say, I spent the better part of my life in Japan, and I never assumed for a moment that justice would err in my favour were I to be caught out for an indiscretion–but I feel compelled to to say something on Scotty’s behalf.

I feel compelled for this reason: were a wealthy Japanese property owner from Azabu, with a famous, elegant wife, to go into a club next door, a club operating in violation of city ordinance, and get into a row with the owners, or the disk jockey, and be killed–and were that disk jockey to be a non-Japanese–the media would have a field day with it. And were the non-Japanese disk jockey–an American, or a Brit, or an African– to claim he had asphyxiated the wealthy Japanese neighbor out of fear or his own life–he would be hung from the highest tree in Japan, on national tv, as a murderer, and a fiend, and a crazed violent foreign interloper. But if it’s just a guy who blindsided Scotty, by all means, give him a suspended probationary sentence. A simple self-defense accident.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE
1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics
2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ
3) Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal
4) Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment
5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line
6) Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo
7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

TANGENTS
8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)
9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education
10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

FOLLOW-UPS
11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court
12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death
13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)