The irony of possibly dying from COVID-19 is not lost on the many asylum-seekers who have been detained at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, a short bus ride from Shinagawa Station.

Patrick, a Cameroonian labor activist whose upper body is covered in scars from the torture he endured in his home country, was awaiting the results of his refugee application when an altercation at a traffic stop landed him in the detention center on the immigration bureau's seventh floor.

"Inside here, I am defenseless," he says. "It's strange. In my country, I escaped being murdered by the police and then was fleeing for almost a year. I learned how to survive. But here, in this place, there's nothing I can do. We cannot defend ourselves against the infection. We are trapped."