Dozens of detainees on hunger strike at Japan immigration centre after Indian's suicide

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 17, 2018 15:42 hrs
Japan immigration

Japan: An Indian man died in an apparent suicide on Friday at the East Japan Immigration Centre, northwest of Tokyo. Activists have said the man killed himself a day after being denied release.

The man was reportedly depressed about how long it was taking for his status to be adjudicated by authorities.

Detainees began refusing food on Sunday, with the strike since spreading to an unspecified number of inmates, Daisuke Akinaga, a spokesman for the center, said. He cited the Indian’s death, long-term detention and inmates’ inability to win temporary release as reasons for the protest.

"We presume that they (the strikers) have refused food to push for provisional release," said Daisuke Akinaga, an official at the immigration centre.

"We also presume that the suicide set off the hunger strike," Akinaga told AFP.

The death was the 14th at a Japanese immigration detention center since 2006, a toll that has led to wide criticism over standards of medical care, the monitoring of detainees held in solitary and guards’ responses to medical emergencies.

Immigration remains a prickly subject in Japan, where cultural and ethnic homogeneity remain deeply rooted even as the population shrinks and companies grapple with the worst labor shortages for more than four decades.

Majid Seyed Nejat, an Iranian taking part in the protest, told Reuters by phone that 19 detainees held in the same block as the Indian launched the hunger strike to pressure the authorities to address complaints.

“We want to know what responsibility they will take for the death,” he said.

Japan’s 17 immigration detention facilities held 1,317 people as of Friday.

Kazuyuki Tokui, a Justice Ministry official overseeing immigration detention, said the ministry did not recognize any problems at the centers.

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