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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 against 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
The man, in his 40s, died on Monday in the southern city of Nagasaki after
he lost consciousness and was taken to hospital, said a detention center
official who declined to be identified.
He did not give a cause of death.
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
Some of them have gone without food for 47 days, said Kimiko Tanaka, a
spokeswoman for the group.
She said a 23-year-old Iranian man who sought asylum more than two years ago
has lost weight and is using a wheelchair.
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.
An official at the national immigration agency confirmed there are hunger
strikers at the Ushiku center, but he did not say how many. Authorities are
providing medical care and trying to persuade them to eat, he added.
Immigration is a contentious issue in Japan, where ethnic and cultural
homogeneity are deeply rooted.
Japan held about 1,500 detainees as of June 2018, according to the latest
public data, nearly half of them for more than six months.
Some 604 were asylum seekers whose applications were rejected, while the
rest were held for various immigration infractions such as overstaying visas.