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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Immigration Bureau of Japan locked foreign inmates in jail ―when the great earthquake occurred

in Japanese/日本語(漢字かなまじり)
in Japanese(hiragana-katakana)/にほんご(ひらがな・カタカナ)

  In March 14, we went to Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center(Ibaraki) to check on condition of inmates in 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
  In Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, the long line of foreigners that want permit to go back to Japan, filled from morning till night. They have Resident Status in Japan, and they will leave from this country to escape from the crisis of earthquake and accident of nuclear power plant Fukushima.
  On the other hand, Immigration Bureau is imprisoning many foreigners that have no Resident Status, for example overstayer or who want to admit them to be refugees. We visited those foreigners and know Immigration Bureau(both Tokyo and Ibaraki) problematically deal with that crisis. That is, we can not judge Immigration Bureau regard for inmate's safety and human rights.

  In Ibaraki, although three inmates fallen down with shocking of earthquake(15 o'clock in March 11), officials locked them in jail in their room from open space, only repeated "Don't worry" and never opened until Inmates all beaten doors with scream.
  The situation is same in Tokyo. In Tokyo, we don’t know if inmates had injury or not, but inmates all say they quite feared the earthquake. Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau stands on reclaimed ground, and because inmate's rooms are on 8-11 floors, it is difficult for them to escape when it comes to. These are sources of anxiety for inmates.
  But, officials ordered them to go back to rooms and allowed not to escape. Of course many inmates protested, but officials locked them in jail at 15-16 o’clock. Besides, in some Block, staffs don't even accounted about the earthquake.

  Immigration Bureau chose the worst one of all possibility to be able to take. They had to have inmates refuge at that time, but they bothered to block the route. Inmates will have had stress to shut into the room in crisis. It is obvious for us to difficultly help inmates from l o c k e d rooms, when it happens to the building collapsed.
 Immigration Bureau has not let inmates go out even free space yet, without very short time, called “Free Time”(as of March 18).
  If Immigration Bureau regarded to foreigner's safety and human rights, they could never have do so. Immigration Bureau must concern to only control foreigners.
  Inmates worried not only their own bodies, but also whole society and people in these islands. They have already known terrible damage in Tohoku and Kanto on the earthquake, and the accident of the nuclear power plant in Fukshima. They can look down the long line of foreigners that want escape Japan. They worried their friends and families very much, who have lived near disaster areas.
  But Immigration Bureau limited them to call their fammilies, besides in some blocks, they reject inmate's demand on calling.

  We made a petition to alter Immigration Bureau's behavior that brings inmates anxiety and risk, to Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center.
  We discussed with Y(initial) who is a chief of visiting inmates.
  We asked him “Do you have the plan and training grounded on Treatment Regulation 16?”
  He answered “Yes, we have the manual and training.”
  We asked” If so, why did you lock foreign inmates in jail? according to manual?”
  He said” I can not answer, secret.” And he has never opened the manual.
  But we can not have anything but interpretation that they locked inmates in jail according to manual when the earthquake occurred. Because Y admits that they have the manual for crisis, and in fact, Immigration Bureau's acting on earthquake, according to the manual, is to lock.

  We must convict also that Immigration Bureau and the Ministry of Justice in Japan do not have the concept of human rights and the will of saving inmates. They think nothing but how to control foreign inmates.
  In “Regulation of Treatment of Inmates 17” that the Ministry of Justice provided according to Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, as authority of director of regional immigration bureau and Immigration Center, they can temporarily release inmates when a disaster strike. That is to say, they were able to choice to release inmates in their own judgment when the earthquake occurred. They could at least open the door of the inmate's room until the danger of the earthquake is less. But they did not do so. They did lock foreign inmates in jail. That is worst worst choice.
  So, not only the Ministry of Justice, but also Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center themselves have serious blame of these issue. As often as we offer them to reform the bad treatment of inmates, they always tell us dishonesty that they only do according to the law and regulation. But even on the law and regulation, it was wrong for them to lock foreign inmates in jail.
  If there is the manual about locking foreign inmates in jail when disaster strikes, the Minister of Justice and the Ministry of Justice have the blame as the competent authorities.
  We will denounce them. We want also you to denounce the Ministry of Justice and Immigration Bureau of Japan together.

Urgent Proposal
To  :the director of the Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center,
        and the director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau
From: Provisional Release Association in Japan(PRAJ)

    Northeast Pacific Earthquake on the 11th of this month and the after situation brought the catastrophe, that is to say extremely big damage to Japan. It seems that you also spent the weekend with confusion and are still busy in providing against the post progress.
    The provisionally released people in Kansai and the others organized the PRAJ last September, and we, in Kanto organized PRAJ last October. After that, we call twice on Minister of Justice and the Director of Immigration Bureau after Ministry of Justice, the Director of Tokyo Immigration Bureau to invest provisionally released people with status of residences and to stop re-committing for the outcome of the Procedure for Recognition of Refugee Status or administrative litigation. This is our first application for Higashi-Nihon Center. We were primarily going to call on you to grant soon permissions to longtime inmates, seriously ill patients, minor and so on, and to permit meetings with up to three rooms and five inmate at same time as past situation to us, and condition of meetings like Japanese or regular residents to provisionally released people.
    Since your situation and ours are difference, it must be that some conflicts will be occurred. However we must think well about friends in the center than outside. We earnestly request you of an appropriate rise rather than past offer.
    We are in difficult situation including some aftershocks on Pacific side of East Japan and linked many earthquakes everywhere, accident in Fukusima atomic power plant. Nevertheless they are restraint, and their safety and life are entrusted to you. We ask you for below urgent proposal with demands for protecting and taking into consideration them, and affording the most facility to them, who is in emergency.
  1. You should prepare and take the all possible measure including possibility for their refuge or the temporarily liberation provided by the 17th article of the Rule of Treatment of Inmates in the Immigration Center in order to protect the safety and the life of inmates. If your decisions or measures are tardy or delayed as disaster strikes, hundreds of people in each Center might die in vain. We justly wish such a worst situation, however the Center is in a difficult situation by the biggest earthquake which we have never experience since the Bureau were established. So we desire you to regard human rights as he Rule of Treatment of Inmates in the Immigration Center say. Please do your best.
  2. You should unlock the doors all days. We want you not to lock each room of the inmates at the least in order to the inmates can leave for common space if they are in emergency. Earthquakes have not stopped yet. In addition there are some unexpected disasters for example accident of Fukusima atomic power plant. The inmates are very doubtful and stressful to closing their room. We heard some inmates are panic. Everyone might be almost same situation. Then inmates having family or fiancé and so on in Tohoku or Kanto are worry about their situations. Their relatives are also uneasy with them. You should recognize their utmost rights of correspondence in order to improve mind’s condition of both of them.       
  3. You should permit provisional release to inmates who have family or fiancé in Tohoku and Kanto and seriously ill patients, handicapped people. The people having relatives are stressful for above situation. This problem is not related only himself/herself, but also others in each room or each block. As a result vicious cycle begins, in other words they are more stressful. Then, the patients become worse in the worst situation, besides fear for continuation of their treatment. Perhaps the handicapped people cannot escape when in an emergency, and also they might cause obstacle to ushering out of the center or to liberation temporarily. 

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