AFTER MEDIA REPORTS OF “hunger strike” protests by foreign detainees against conditions at the Tokyo Detention Center of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry, the FCCJ Special Projects Committee organized a visit on June 7 to investigate the situation. The reports also included the forceful removal of a few detainees who had refused to return to their quarters.

Shigeo Ogata, Public Liaison Officer at the Detention Center, explained to the four FCCJ Regular-Member participants that six detainees had been taken to the Center’s hospital, but five of them were released on the same day. Only one remained in the hospital for a few days as he had swallowed the edge of an electric shaver.

According to Ogata, the total number of detainees as of June 5 was 551 men and 177 women; of the total, 77 detainees were Chinese nationals. A request to inspect a vacant detainee room was rejected for privacy reasons. He also stated that nurses and doctors provide regular health checks, and halal and vegetarian dishes are offered to those who have religious dietary restrictions.

Under Japan’s immigration and refugee laws, 13,361 people from 108 countries and regions were ordered to leave Japan during 2016.

– Haruko Watanabe