Sri Lankan man dies at Shinagawa detention center

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A Sri Lankan man died while in detention at the Shinagawa Immigration Bureau last month after the guards apparently ignored his repeated complaints about severe chest pain, a supporters’ group said Monday.

The death of Nickeles Fernando, 57, comes amid allegations that critically ill detainees are being neglected by the immigration service. It also attests to a tendency to disregard the rights of foreign detainees, lawyers and activists said.

“His death illustrates the immigration’s outrageous belittlement of foreigners’ human rights,” said Takeshi Omachi, a representative of Provisional Release Association in Japan. “They probably don’t care if foreigners die on their watch.”

According to PRAJ and fellow detainees’ accounts, Fernando was found dead, face-down, in a solitary confinement cell at the immigration bureau in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward at around 1 p.m. on Nov. 22.

He had begun to complain of severe chest pains at around 7 a.m., begging a guard to take him to a doctor.

The guard refused, on the grounds that a medical facility inside the detention center was not open on Saturdays.

Immigration officials moved him to a solitary confinement cell at around 8 a.m., where Fernando groaned in pain for about an hour before falling silent near 9 a.m., the presumed time of death, fellow detainees told The Japan Times in a phone call last week. The inmates initiated the call.

By the time other inmates went to check on him, Fernando was dead, his body cold and showing signs of rigor mortis. He had been drooling and had urinated on the mattress, PRAJ quoted an inmate as saying.

A devout Christian, Fernando had tried to make the guard understand the severity of his pain, swearing on his pocket Bible in broken English that he was not lying.

Fernando was admitted to the immigration center on or around Nov. 17. Police still have custody of his body and are investigating the cause of death.

“He was like my father. I still can’t believe he’s gone,” Jeorge Fernando, 27, a nephew of the deceased, told reporters on Monday.

Several foreign individuals have died in recent years while in the clutches of the immigration service.

In October 2013, Rohingya detainee Anwar Hussin, 57, died of a brain hemorrhage in the Shinagawa Immigration Bureau after his pleas for a doctor went ignored for about 50 minutes.

In March this year, an Iranian man and a Cameroonian man died in separate incidents at a detention center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture. The Justice Ministry on Nov. 20 faulted authorities for not having medical personnel available around the clock. It vowed to boost staffing.

Fernando died two days later.

The Immigration Bureau rejects allegations of negligence.

“There was nothing improper in the way we handled his situation,” the bureau said in a statement on Monday.

“We call an ambulance if there is need to do so. It’s not correct to say we fail to take foreigners’ rights seriously,” it said.

  • Ron NJ

    “His death illustrates the immigration’s outrageous belittlement of
    foreigners’ human rights,” said Takeshi Omachi, a representative of
    Provisional Release Association in Japan. “They probably don’t care if
    foreigners die on their watch.”
    Hasn’t this guy heard? Foreigners don’t have human rights in Japan – after all, the basic rights (which we would consider “human rights”) are only conferred upon Japanese citizens, per the constitution of Japan. Any of those rights which you enjoy (or don’t) are exercised at the whim of whatever entity has control over you at a given point in time; their use cannot be said to be based upon law as long as the constitution exists in its current wording, nor can it realistically be said that they are conferred to non-citizens – the fact that you have not been placed in a situation in which were you a citizen your rights had been “violated” does not mean that you have those rights in question, but rather that no one has yet bothered to act upon you in such a manner, and should not be confused with holding the rights. In other words, don’t confuse “being ignored” with “having rights”.

    • Steve Novosel

      OK, Debito. Way to use this man’s tragic death to make an inaccurate political point.

      Is there a problem with inhumane treatment of detainees in immigration detention centers? That absolutely seems to be the case, yes. It seems to a systemic issue in the justice system in general – plenty of cases of poor treatment in prisons (and of Japanese citizens, too).

      But it’s completely false that foreigners in Japan do not have human rights. So why say this?

      • R0ninX3ph

        I believe his point is in relation to a recent Supreme Court ruling that has redefined the meaning of “kokumin” in Japanese legal documents, it now only means “Japanese citizens”, and thus in the Japanese constitution the lines referring to basic human rights are written using “kokumin” to determine who has them and who does not.

      • Steve Novosel

        Please read the MOJ’s own documents on human rights.


        Not only do foreign nationals have human rights, there are government organizations to help those foreign nationals who feel their human rights have been infringed.

      • Ron NJ

        As R0ninX3ph pointed out, it has been clarified by recent Supreme Court rulings that kokumin means Japanese citizen, thus all of the basic rights sections of the constitution which use this terminology (for example, articles 10 through 15 – article 11 being that which confers “basic human rights”, article 14 being that which prohibits discrimination, etc) do not apply to noncitizens. Article 10 even states explicitly that the conditions for being a Japanese citizen (kokumin) are to be laid out in law, providing a clear definition of kokumin immediately prior to its usage. That said, there are other sections (for example, article 18, proscribing human slavery) which *do* include foreigners, as they use the wording “nanibito mo” to cover all people rather than only citizens – if kokumin included noncitizens, this would not be necessary.

        You simply cannot in good faith argue against this point without going against either the written word of the constitution or the rulings of the Supreme Court of Japan, and as far as I’m aware the word of Steve Novosel trumps neither, no matter how great your personal distaste for me or my opinions my be.

      • Steve Novosel

        Did you even read the link I posted? It explicitly mentions resources for foreign nationals who feel their rights have been infringed. I’ll even quote you one a relevant example:

        “Examples of cases of human rights counseling

        ○Foreign nationals were rejected when they tried to move into an apartment by reason of being a foreign national”

        “The Organs also carry out human rights promotion activities. and conduct investigation and resolution of cases of human rights infringement in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreign nationals.”

        That sure sounds like foreign nationals have human rights in Japan. Hmm.

        I am not a legal expert, I am also not making this up. It’s a link directly from the MOJ website. You are also not a legal expert, so if you wish to contradict the information provided on an official Japanese government website, I suggest you do so with something from a legal expert, not your own opinion from your own website.

      • Ron NJ

        Just because the MOJ makes motions acting like noncitizens have human rights does not mean that they do. This is the basic point you seem the be missing. They can publish all the pamphlets about “noncitizens have human rights” that they want, but that does not address the fundmental issue that nowhere in the laws or constitution of Japan are noncitizens granted basic human rights.

      • Steve Novosel

        I’ll think I’ll trust the MOJ’s word before bitter anonymous Disqus poster “Ron NJ” and his legion of phantom upvoters on this one.

        Unless you have some actual proof to contradict an official MOJ publication? No?

      • Guest

        It’s pretty obvious that the proof is the wording of the constitution and Supreme Court rulings (like the recent one on welfare where they noted the wording meant citizens rather than all people).

      • Steve Novosel

        It’s pretty obvious that that ruling applied very strictly to public welfare, not in all instances. After all, in every other situation foreign residents of Japan are entitled to the same social benefits as Japanese citizens, they only cannot receive public assistance.

        Actually even that is not factually accurate – there is no guaranteed right to public assistance for foreign nationals.

        Don’t apply these rulings more broadly than the courts do!

      • Ron NJ

        So when are you going to post this legislation which apparently gives human rights to noncitizens? Or is it case law? Either or, take your pick, but until you do that the burden of proof is on you – as has been (repeatedly) stated, a blurb in a pamphlet does not hold the force of law.

      • Steve Novosel

        I’ve already posted relevant MOJ documents which you dismiss out of hand because they do not suit your agenda.

        I can’t help you anymore, son. It’s not my duty to further contradict your demonstrably ridiculous claim.

      • Ron NJ

        A pamphlet is not a law. End of story.

      • Steve Novosel

        So ‘a former public prosecutor’ like you mentioned is now “a law”?

        You certainly do like to pick and choose the sources to support your view. What exactly is your area of expertise that gives you the authority to speak so definitively? I don’t recall you producing any professional credentials to make you an expert on Japanese law.

      • Ron NJ

        Quite the strawman you have there – you’ll note that nowhere did I state that the word of a former prosecutor is law. If you can’t debate and discuss in good faith and without resorting to personal attacks as you have done previously, I don’t see the point in continuing any discussion with you.

      • Steve Novosel

        Then why bring up the word of a former prosecutor as if it’s relevant? I’ve attached an actual MOJ pamphlet – not good enough for ya, “It’s not a law”, but the word of some random prosecutor is.

        I asked you for your credentials on Japanese law as you are fond of quoting it like an expert – that is not a personal attack. Why would you think it is? And why won’t you respond?

        And then I paste the relevant sections from the MOJ website that explicitly state that foreign nationals have human rights in Japan – “I don’t see the point in continuing any discussion with you.”

        Got it.

      • Steve Novosel

        Anyway I will bite. Here’s more wording directly from the MOJ.

        “The Constitution of Japan guarantees fundamental human rights to foreign
        residents in Japan

        (I’m going to pause this right here for a second. This explicitly, unequivocally contradicts your ludicrous claim that ‘foreigners in Japan have no human rights’)

        “except the rights which, owing to their nature, are
        interpreted to be applicable only to Japanese nationals. Thus, the
        Government actively pursues the goals of (1) ensuring equal rights and
        opportunities for foreigners, (2) respecting foreigners’ own cultures
        and values, and (3) promoting mutual understanding to realize a society
        in which Japanese and foreigners can live together comfortably.

        In 1979, Japan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social
        and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
        Political Rights. Japan acceded in 1981 to the Convention Relating to
        the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 and in 1982 to the Protocol
        relating to the Status of Refugees of 31 January 1967. In accordance
        with these conventions, the Government ensures equality between Japanese
        nationals and foreign nationals in many areas.

        “With regard to education, for example, Japan guarantees equal rights to
        education and equal treatment (no tuition fees, free textbooks, etc.)
        for the children of foreign nationals who wish to study at public
        schools for compulsory education. Employment exchange service is also
        provided to all people without racial or ethnic discrimination.
        Moreover, discriminatory treatment with regard to labor conditions based
        on nationality is prohibited and punishable by law.”

        Huh. Sure sounds like human rights to me.

        “On the other hand, with the rapid increase in the number of foreign
        residents, there are reported incidents of human rights violation
        against foreigners among individuals due to differences of language,
        religion, custom and practice. These include discriminatory treatment of
        foreigners in various daily life situation. Some of the cases handled
        by the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice include the
        refusals of apartment rental or entrance to a public swimming pool on
        the grounds of being a foreigner. The Government takes these incidents
        as serious human rights violations against foreign residents in Japan,
        and it requests that the related groups and authorities remove the
        prejudice and misunderstanding against foreigners at all possible times
        with a view to realizing a society in which all Japanese nationals and
        foreigners can live comfortably together. It also promotes nationwide
        campaigns to raise public awareness of this issue.”

        Serious rights violations. As in, foreigners have human rights that can be violated. Oh I realize this only comes directly from the government, not from an authoritative source like a NicoNico video or anonymous poster like Ron NJ.

      • OsFish

        I’m afraid you’ve been misled by the media reports of the ruling. It did NOT deny public assistance to foreigners. Instead, it actually recognised that foreigners have access on the same criteria as Japanese. The ruling was about the legal authority for that equal access, which the court found to be not the law itself, but a notice from the MHLW. The ruling has impacts on appeal processes, but essentially, there is no difference made between Japanese citizens and resident non-citizens.

      • Most English language versions of constitutions of the world (check out the constitute project) use the world “People” to mean something very different than “everybody, including non-citizens”. For example, both the U.S. and Australian (and many other countries) constitutions say that their representatives in government are chosen/elected by “the people” or “people”. They obviously do not mean non-citizens here.

      • Ron NJ

        That’s true, but we’re not talking about the entire body of these documents, but rather those sections pertaining to human rights (regardless of their location, be it constitutions, legislation or case law). The US declaration of independence (granted AFAIK this isn’t a law but it is a good example regardless) sets out a basic premise using unambiguous wording that (at least has come to be accepted that it) applies to all, not just citizens. Similarly the Civil Rights Act of 1964 uses unambiguous wording which is not limited solely to citizens (see Title II, among others), and so on. In this regard, the constitution of Japan uses very different wording when assigning rights to citizens (kokumin) instead of “all people” (nanbito mo), for example in my previous posts comparing the sections on basic rights to the proscription of human slavery. In fact, kokumin is used extensively throughout the entirety of the constitution, and only in the context of “the people of Japan”, as in the citizens of Japan. To interpret the word otherwise would accord vast rights (voting, the right to receive public assistance, etc) to noncitizens, which I don’t think any of us would argue is intended.
        You’ll note that, due to the wording, there are a fair few rights noncitizens do have: the right to assemble, freedom of thought, the freedom to change their residence etc. Sadly the sections on basic human rights (11 & 13) however are clearly restricted to citizens of Japan.

      • Ron NJ

        The proof is the wording of the constitution along with Supreme Court rulings. Not sure how many times you want me to spell that out for you, but it shouldn’t require petty personal attacks from you. Since you seem incapable of discussing the matter like an adult, I’ll leave you to try to figure out matters on your own.

      • Article 98 says that “… treaties concluded by Japan … shall be faithfully observed” and Japan ratified the two covenants implementing the UN’s UHDR, which defines the internationally accepted “basic human rights” in 30 articles along with most other nations at the same time, in 1976.

      • Ron NJ

        You’ll note that this point was addressed in a previous reply, though probably not to your liking. Japan does indeed state (and maintain to this day) that treaties to which it is signatory hold the force of domestic law, but that is something that as far as I’m aware has been lacking in realistic application.

      • I’ll give you a realistic application: in 1999, Shizuoka Prefecture Hamamatsu District Court found in favor of Brazilian Ana Bortz who was denied entrance into a jewelry store on the basis of racial discrimination. The judge, Tetsurō Sō, specifically applied Article 98 and used tort law to apply international law (CERD) domestically. The judge awarded her ¥1,500,000 plus 5% interest for a total of ¥1,550,000 which
        part of which was to be used to pay for litigation and lawyer expenses
        for her lawyer. Ana Bortz also asked for ¥452,000 for translation and
        interpretation fees, but this was denied.

      • Ron NJ

        You’ve got me there, I was not aware that there was actually precedent of international treaties being enforced in racial discrimination suits in Japan! I hope that this is a common occurrence rather than a lone instance, though I’m not asking you to go find more, I’ll take your word for it.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Because we all know how often a landlord is going to come out and say directly “You cannot live here because you are a foreigner”, right? Japanese people are never passive-aggressive at all.

      • Steve Novosel

        You are really moving the goalposts here! You are now saying that it IS a violation of human rights to forbid housing based on nationality, landlords know this and get around it by not saying they are doing so directly?

        If you are not saying this, what is your point exactly? Because if that is not what you mean, what you are saying is irrelevant because a landlord could simply tell you openly without fear of repercussion.

        And let me be clear – I am 100%, completely, totally opposed to housing discrimination. It’s disgusting in the the 21st century that any modern nation would allow that.

        Saying that “foreign nationals have no human rights in Japan” is completely incorrect, though, and demonstrably so. So why exaggerate and say it is so? Why not focus on addressing the real issues that face foreign national residents in Japan and not waste time on obvious nonsense like “foreigners have no human rights”?

      • Toolonggone

        It depends on how the readers interpret the documents. One thing they need to know, however, is that the MOJ has a lot of branches and sections within its entity–just like any other government ministry agents. It is Jinkenyougobu who publishes the documents and holds the campaign in late November-to-December every year. They are just one faucet. That does not mean the entire body of ministry is on the same page. And this is not the first time people witness contradictions between the message released from public relations and the ministry representatives.

      • … a recent Supreme Court ruling that has redefined the meaning of “kokumin” in Japanese legal documents

        “Kokumin” has never meant non-Japanese and has always meant legal “Japanese nationals”. This is in accordance with the Constitution’s Article 10, which says the requirements for being a legal kokumin is defined by Japanese law, and that Japanese law that defines kokumin is called the Nationality Law.

        “Kokumin” is almost always been translated as “Japanese national” — have a look at the bilingual E-J text on the opening page of a new or old Japanese passport.

        The meaning of kokumin is not only defined in the current constitution, but is also defined in the old Meiji Constitution too (exact same article and virtually word for word, with the exception of old vs new Japanese)

        If kokumin meant anything other than a legal Japanese national, then Articles 15 and 44 (and their connected laws) would give non-Japanese not only the right to vote in national elections, but the right to hold national office (and become Prime Minister)!

  • Justin Thyme

    Japan doesn’t do human rights whether foreign or Japanese. The police and judiciary are actually lawless and will act on a whim, treating their captive with an inhumanity and brutality, echoing their revered war criminal heroes.

    I speak from personal experience: I was pounced on by 6 cops at my local station; they had me in a choke hold so tight I may have suffocated but for a member of the station staff who told the police I couldn’t breathe; they cuffed me so tightly that blood stopped flowing to my hands and I had cuts on my wrists; they kicked my abdomen and ribs and broke them; they literally threw me in a police cell; I coughed up blood and pleaded for medical assistance but I was ignored. The next morning, they falsely accused me of assaulting a policeman and said they wouldn’t charge me if I apologized and went quietly. Luckily, I survived to tell the tale.

    • Charlie Sommers

      Not that I doubt your word sir but I would like to hear the police’ side of this story. Why were you being apprehended in the first place? I lived in Tokyo for eight years and had nothing but positive experiences with the police.

      • rossdorn

        I have to agree with at least partly, I also have been living here for eight years and nothing but friendly encounters with police. Coming from Europe (nor even from the US) this was an unblievable surprise for me…

        But I also KNOW of incidents where this has not been the case. Surely you know that this is an authoritarian state at best, and feudal fascism at worst?

      • itoshima2012

        “authoritarian state”, “feudal fascist” you delusional or writing via Tor from North Korea? Since you have been living here for 8 years I doubt Japan is authoritarian or fascist or are you both and feel at home here…. This is a tragic incident, an type of incident that happens hundred of times every year in centres were illegal or genuine immigrants are held to be processed so nothing special about this one. Of course this doesn’t mean that it should happen, it only means that if you want to rand about it do it properly. From most of your past comments on all issues Japan you chose the wrong country, wonder why you’re living 8 years in a authoritarian and fascist country…

      • rossdorn

        If you have been to North Korea and lived there for a whilew, thentell us all you know about it.

        But save us the crap you somewhere…

        Do you KNOW anything? No, as usual

      • itoshima2012

        judging from the your rude language I deduct you’ve a low paid job, a low IQ and all in all have a pretty crappy life, so yes, with my educational background, my current job and my pay I guess it is clear that I do know something (more than you all the time, but that’s not the standard is it…), 5AFY

      • Justin Thyme

        I understand your skepticism as I would have been the same had I not experienced it for myself, or at least witnessed it firsthand. You won’t get the police side of the story of course so I don’t know how I can prove it. There were numerous witnesses at the station and I wonder if any of them took photos or videos of the occurrence. While I was being carried to the police van, I was shouting out for help from anyone within earshot but they couldn’t exactly call the police. I’m sure the station staff will remember the incident well but I prefer not to pursue it as my young son needs me in Japan and I don’t want to risk further trouble or deportation. I fought the law and the law won.

      • rossdorn

        Sounds reasonable… I am afraid more is not possible.

    • Steve Novosel

      Context, please? I assume they didn’t assault you on a whim?

      • Justin Thyme

        I have to be careful what I say because I don’t want any more trouble from the authorities and the defamation law is draconian in Japan; a US female friend of mine, who has young children, was arrested and jailed earlier this year for writing her ex-husband’s name on her blog and she didn’t even lie about him. She was held for the legally-allowed maximum of 23 days without access to family, friends or a lawyer. We sent her books and sweets which she never received.

        Her Japanese husband and a Japanese rights activist, whom I was in contact with, had difficulty finding a lawyer who would touch the case; finally they found an old boy with contacts in high places in the judiciary and at a massive price, she was given a non-custodial sentence at her trial. Her kids were taken into care because her husband couldn’t take time off work, partly because he couldn’t tell his employer or family of the shameful real reason and partly because he’s pathetic (I suppose).

        The police do not follow procedure as stipulated in reciprocal government agreements such as notifying one’s embassy. When I told mine, they complained to the local police station who denied they’d arrested me!

        I notified the US embassy in the aforementioned case and they had no knowledge of her being arrested – no surprise there – but I was expecting that based on my own experience. I gave them the full details and when they contacted the offending cop shop, the police denied holding any such person and refused to cooperate. I was a party to a three-way call and heard it for myself. She was definitely there as her husband had discovered though he was denied access.

        I could go on with this and other stories. There are the skeptics who live in the superficial glitz and glamour of Tokyo and there are those of us that have scratched below the surface and have a very different story.

      • Steve Novosel

        Thanks for the clarification, that’s a really frightening experience!

    • James

      You are lucky then. Had you been in the US, you would have just been shot. You do realize that no oneis ever going to believe what you are saying so just stop trolling,

      • DantheMan

        Unlikely if he is white and male.

  • K T

    The Immigration Bureau rejects allegations of negligence.
    “There was nothing improper in the way we handled his situation,” the bureau said in a statement on Monday.
    “We call an ambulance if there is need to do so. It’s not correct to say we fail to take foreigners’ rights seriously,” it said.

    Um… WHAT? On multiple occasions, detainees have been screaming in pain, sometimes for hours, and the guards don’t interpret this as worthy of calling an ambulance???
    Until guards get basic training, and one or more are charged, fired or put in prison for this obvious neglect leading to multiple deaths. why would anything change?

    • rossdorn

      Relax… you miss the point… he said “we take foreigners’ rights seriously”.

      • R0ninX3ph

        They take foreigners’ rights seriously, as written in the constitu….. oh right…. I gettit.

      • rossdorn

        Life is easy, once you start thinking…. ;-)

  • Mike

    Maybe not murder, but culpable homicide. Someone should be held responsible for not getting this man medical attention. Its not like he commited some violent act! For all we know he simply stayed somewhere beyond the time limit allowed

    • rossdorn

      “Someone should be held responsible for not getting this man medical attention”

      Surely you can tell us why this has to be so?

      What are you going to do, if it does not happen?

      There seem to be a lot of gaijins around who should either wake up a little more, or simply keep their childish opinions to themselves…

      • Mike

        I don’t know what your angle is, but it certainly isn’t the side that includes humanity or compassion for others.

    • rossdorn

      Comments from both of us are missing, but this must be the place….

      You see, the point is, I write about what is.,,,, you write about how you would like things to be.

      You wrote: someone should be held responsible. And as it probably will not happen, I asked what you will do if this is not the case.
      I mean other than you writing here, that you do not like it?

  • “In the clutches of the immigration service“ is a good turn of phrase. I`m surprised that the word “clutches“ made it into print. It`s outrageous that the Immigration Bureau simply “rejects allegations of negligence.“ No attempt even to discuss the issue. “Rejecting“ does not mean that the government is denying the charge of negligence. It is just ignoring the charge, which some might say is a substitute for effectively admitting it. I think the prevailing view in Japan for a long time has been that “rights“ are for citizens. Human rights be damned. There are only citizen rights specific to each polity and in Japan foreigners are not citizens and therefore do not merit … well, do not merit anything at all, really.

  • Steve Novosel

    You are being extraordinarily, willfully obtuse on this matter. I cite a passage from the official MOJ website that very clearly states the government’s position on the human rights of foreign nationals in Japan and you dismiss it simply because you disagree.

    It EXPLICITLY gives examples of situations the MOJ considers human rights violations of foreigners.

    It could not possibly be clearer what the government’s official stance is on the issue.

    You are simply wrong on this point, and you have provided absolutely no evidence to contradict what is said on the MOJ website other than a meaningless quote from some random ex-prosecutor. And you have yet to offer any credentials to show you are an expert on Japanese law such that you would know better than what is posted on the official MOJ website.

    • Ron NJ

      It sounds like we’re at an impasse since I’m not going to ever agree that text on a website or a pamphlet has the force of law, it appears that you’re not going to agree that it doesn’t, and the text of the constitution itself and the MOJ’s own statement which you yourself quoted still support my position 100%.

      • Steve Novosel

        No, again the the text ABOVE that which you are so fond of is -“The Constitution of Japan guarantees fundamental human rights to foreign residents in Japan” which, if you remember way-y-y back to your original posting, you incorrectly stated:

        “Foreigners don’t have human rights in Japan”

        Which is what I responded to.

        Why can you just not acknowledge that you totally overstated your position? What good does it do you to engage in completely incorrect hyperbole? Are you that tied to this bombastic rhetoric that you can’t just admit that OK, mayyyybe there are some human rights guaranteed to foreigners in Japan?

        You know, a reasonable and accurate position to have?

        You keep mentioning “The constitution, the constitution”. What I quote is the the official MOJ interpretation of said constitution, but you deny it’s validity. That’s just odd. We’re talking about the same document.

      • Guest

        Umm.. go look at the constitution. Article 11 (which talks about fundamental human rights) specifically uses the word ‘国民’, and we’ve got Eido Inoue up above doing a good job explaining that that only has ever meant ‘Japanese national’. Seems pretty clear. Regardless of what the MOJ says, they can’t just make up law without either a court case, legislation, or a constitutional amendment.

      • Steve Novosel

        Wow, talk about a radical edit to your original comment. Your comment where you agreed with what I said. I’m going to pretend you didn’t make that radical edit – I have the original text in my inbox so I know what you said. Or were you not aware I can see your unedited comments? Hmm.

        I never said ALL rights were guaranteed to foreign nationals. That is explicitly not the case.

        What IS the case is there ARE human rights for foreign nationals in Japanese law. And you agreed with that. Thank you for FINALLY agreeing with what is clearly true.

      • Ron NJ

        The fact that you apparently filtered my original post down to “I agree with you” shows exactly why I find myself having to go back and dumb them down for you – fear that it will fly so far over your head that you’ll miss the point entirely. But if you want to take that as a victory, then be my guest!

      • Steve Novosel

        I filtered it down to that because you strangely replaced it with something very contrary to what you originally wrote, as if you had a change of heart. I thought we were coming to a consensus that yes, foreign nationals do have human rights in Japan and no, they are not all the rights available to Japanese citizens – a reasonable and obvious conclusion supported by both the official MOJ interpretation of the constitution and common sense.

        I’m not trying to “win” anything, I’m just trying to establish a consensus on this fact and this fact alone. After all, if you will remain hung up on the idea that “foreigners have absolutely no human rights in Japan”, what is the point of having a discussion? Why comment at all?

      • Ron NJ

        Foreign nationals have rights (that has never been in doubt) but not fundamental human rights, which are reserved solely for citizens per the constitution of Japan. Even the MOJ’s official position cannot change that fact without a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court ruling on the fact, neither of which has occurred.

        And just to make that abundantly clear, let me quote article 98:
        For ease of reading, the English version:
        This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the nation and no law, ordinance, imperial rescript or their act of government, or part thereof, contrary to the provisions hereof, shall have legal force or validity.

        There it is, case closed. Even the MOJ’s official position does not trump the constitution, which is the “supreme law of the nation”.

      • Steve Novosel

        “Foreign nationals have rights (that has never been in doubt)”

        Then you should be more careful in saying so, as you explicitly stated in our first comment that they do not.

        Are you saying foreign nationals do not enjoy the same freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of associtation and freedom of assembly that Japanese citizens do? These are fundamental human rights.

        If you are indeed saying that, that is an extraordinary claim to make. I would love to see the court rulings on that, because I have provided evidence that explicitly states the opposite.

      • Ron NJ

        The rights noncitizens can’t enjoy are pretty clearly laid out: “fundamental human rights” (article 12, no explanation given), “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (article 13) and protection from sexual/racial/ethnic/etc discrimination (article 14). There are others (the right to equal education, etc) which also don’t apply to noncitizens but frankly I can’t be bothered to make an exhaustive list and whether that sort of stuff is a human right or not is also debatable.

  • Balkan

    “There was nothing improper in the way we handled his situation” The guy died and they see nothing strange in stating this? Truly shameless? It’s also interesting they no names were mentioned – saving face is obviously more important than repairing a broken system.