Foreign detainees continue hunger strike at Japanese immigration center

Hunger strike at Japan immigration detention centre after suicide

Hunger strike at Japan immigration detention centre after suicide

Inmates of a Japanese immigration detention centre have launched a hunger strike after an Indian detainee committed suicide there last week, AFP reported.

An Indian national in his thirties, who has not been publicly identified, was found hanging in a shower stall at the centre in Ibaraki, north-east of Tokyo. Activists have said the man killed himself a day after being denied release. 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.

Despite the population in Japan shrinking and companies struggling with the worst labour shortages in more than 40 years, immigration is still a hard option since cultural and ethnic homogeneity is deeply rooted.

An Iranian taking part in the protest Majid Seyed Nejat, said to Reuters that 19 detainees held in the same block as the Indian had launched the hunger strike to pressure the authorities to address their complaints.

The latest suicide was not an isolated incident and their have been multiple deaths at immigration centers in Japan, including the Ushiku center where a Vietnamese man in his 40s died after complaining of a medical issue and not receiving the requisite treatment by staff in 2017. At their peak, protests at detention centres in Tokyo and Nagoya a year ago saw around 100 inmates refusing food.

Conditions in Japan's immigration detention system have sparked hunger strikes at other facilities.

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

The UN Committee Against Torture has denounced Japan's long and sometimes indefinite holding of foreigners in breach of immigration laws, and the detention facilities in Japan have been always been criticized for providing poor medical treatment to detainees with health issues.

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