• Kyodo, Staff Report


The Immigration Bureau admitted Thursday that it mishandled the case of a 43-year-old Cameroonian detainee who fell ill and died after he was left without access to medical treatment at an immigration facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The man, whose name has been withheld, was found unconscious in his cell on the morning of March 30. He was taken to a hospital but died an hour later, according to an internal survey conducted by the bureau. The cause of death remains unclear.

Three days earlier, on March 27, the man complained that he was ill and went to see a doctor at the facility. A doctor who works there full-time was absent that day, so he was treated by the part-time physician.

There was no doctor available for the next three days, so the man went without medical treatment during that time.

“If he had a chance to receive continuous treatment, it is very likely doctors would have diagnosed his health condition as severe,” a bureau official said. “We will strive to keep a full-time doctor at the facility and always have a doctor on call.”

At the time that the man died, he had been detained for about six months.

Hidefumi Okawa, a lawyer who helped him, said he was detained after landing at Narita airport and applying for refugee status.

In a separate case, the immigration authorities said staff took all steps needed to secure medical treatment for an Iranian detainee, 33, who died after eating at the same detention center on March 28, which apparently led to breathing problems that caused him to choke on his dinner.

He died a day later, after being held at the center for about 14 months.

He, too, had applied for refugee status, according to Kimiko Tanaka, a member of a citizens’ group aiming to end mistreatment of detainees at immigration facilities across the nation.

The Immigration Bureau is overseen by the Justice Ministry.

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