Indian Man Dies in Japanese Immigration Center

Detention centers in Japan have been criticized over treatment of detainees, medical care and how guards respond to medical emergencies.


An Indian man died at a Japanese immigration detention center in apparent suicide on April 13 , Reuters reported. This is the latest death in an immigration center, which has been widely criticized over medical standards, monitoring of detainees and mental health care.

The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, was found by the guards in a shower room with a towel around his neck,  according to a statement by the East Japan Immigration Centre. Since he wasn’t breathing, he was administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before being taken to hospital. He was declared dead about an hour after his arrival into the hospital.

The cause of death hasn’t been confirmed but it was thought to be suicide, center spokesman Daisuke Akinaga said. He confirmed that the police were investigating the case and declined to identify the man.

According to Kimiko Tanaka, an activist who works with detainees at the center, the man was denied release from the facility on April 12. He was in detention for around 10 months, Tanaka said, citing a detainee in the same block as her source of information.

Akinaga, the spokesman, refused to comment on the man’s detention history.

With this death, the toll in Japan’s immigration detention system has gone up to 14 from 2006. Four of those — not counting the recent death — were suicides.

As per the country’s justice ministry which oversees the center, Japan’s 17 immigration detention facilities held 1,317 people as of April 13. Immigration is a touchy subject in Japan, where many of its citizens pride themselves on cultural and ethnic homogeneity among a shrinking population and the worst labor shortages since the 1970s.

Government watchdog, activists and lawyers have criticized the detention centers over the treatment of detainees, medical care and how guards respond to medical emergencies, the news agency reported. The report cited the example a Vietnamese detainee who died at the same center, who was found lying on the floor for hours before the guards called for an ambulance.

The report also talked of a Reuters investigation in 2016 into the death of a man at a center which revealed serious deficiencies in medical treatment and monitoring. The investigation found that mental illnesses ranging from depression to anxiety were common.

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