Nigerian immigrants die in the Japanese detention center after a hunger strike

The Nigerian went on hunger strike at a Nagasaki detention center in southern Japan. Asahi Shimbun photo

A Nigerian, yet to be identified, has died in a detention center for Japanese immigration, an official said on Thursday, putting an end to a hunger strike that an activist group said was designed to protest against his being detained for over three years.

His death was the fifteenth death since 2006, according to Reuters, in a scheme commonly criticized for medical norms, monitoring prisoners, and how guards react to a medical emergency.

A detention center official said the guy, in his 40s, died on Monday in Nagasaki’s southern town after he lost consciousness and was taken to hospital. He gave no cause for death.

RINK, a center support group, told Reuters that the Nigerian was on hunger strike to protest his long imprisonment.

A distinct group supporting prisoners at that facility said another 27 foreigners are on hunger strike at a detention center in Ushiku, northeast of Tokyo.

Some of them have gone 47 days without food, the group’s spokeswoman Kimiko Tanaka said.

She said that a 23-year-old Iranian person who had been seeking asylum more than two years earlier lost weight and used a wheelchair.

For five years, she said, two other males at Ushiku were arrested. “Long-term imprisonment is nothing but a breach of human rights,” Tanaka said.

An official confirmed there are hunger strikers at the Ushiku center at the national immigration agency, but he didn’t say how many.

He added that authorities provide medical care and try to convince them to eat.

Immigration in Japan, where ethnic and cultural homogeneity is deeply rooted, is a controversial problem.

As of June 2018, Japan retained about 1,500 prisoners, almost half of whom had been held for more than six months, according to the recent public data.

Approximately 604 have been asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected, while the rest have been held for various immigration offenses such as excess visas.

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