Why does Japan arrest foreigners

Japan's handling of refugeesYears of imprisonment, no perspective

On the ground floor of the Ushiku deportation prison, around 50 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, it sounds like a wellness studio. It is not, but the foreigners have it good here and they want to show that to ARD radio, says Daisuke Akinga from public relations. Almost 70 percent of the 400 places in the deportation prison are currently occupied.

Lots of stairs up and down, doors open and closed - and then you stand in an empty cell block. Everything is already prepared there. Today's lunch is in a box. Ushiku cooks fresh. "Chicken with tomato sauce and vegetables, a little corn, boiled spinach and spaghetti with pepperoni."

The door to the room for eating opens and closes three times a day. Often up to five people share a room for years. The refugees have free time between the three meals, are allowed to leave their cells and walk around in the small corridor. "Then you can do your laundry over there, there are also showers, and then there are two telephones here."

Hunger strikes again and again

In Japan, rejected asylum seekers remain in detention for two years on average, in Ushiku a fifth of men have been there for more than three years, and many have been detained several times. At the moment 30 men are on hunger strike in Ushiku, again. Two Iranians tell why. Because sound recordings are not permitted, quotations from the transcript:

"We are not treated like people here. There is no internet, the payphone is so expensive that I can rarely speak to my family. And we are constantly afraid that we will have to go back to Iran. What are we supposed to do with such a life?" ? "

One of the two weighs only 52 kilos at a height of 1.67 meters. In other of the 17 deportation detention centers, too, people are on hunger strike.

Trapped in the Japanese judicial system

Hassan hasn't given up hope yet. The Kurd sits in the Happy Kebab in Saitama, a region about an hour north of downtown Tokyo. The 37-year-old Kurd has lived in Japan for 16 years. Back then, he says, the conditions were good. He applied for refugee protection. "I tried that for three years, but it was always rejected. Then I was arrested and put in detention."

He has been free for eight years - free yes, but trapped in the Japanese judicial system. "I'm officially not allowed to work, so I secretly do small jobs, that's what I live on."

More than 300 refugees have now gone into hiding, leading a "life in the dark" in Japan, as a Japanese newspaper recently wrote. The consequences of such a life can be clearly seen in Onur. The 40-year-old Kurd entered Japan with a visa in 2004, all applications for refugee protection were thrown off, he was in custody several times, and when he fell ill, no one helped him, he says: "The medical care was really bad. How many People have gone crazy - you are not treated humanely there. "

Onur has a "Kari Homen", a temporary release because he is sick. "I go to the doctor two or three times a month, I am physically and mentally ill. I cannot sleep without medication."

Lack of medical care

The head of the immigration office, Shoko Sasaki, in the club of foreign journalists admits that the medical care is not as it should be: "In terms of medical care in particular, I do not realize that the current situation is satisfactory. I think we need to make further improvements. "

In other respects, however, the officer remains tough: "Among the foreigners there are some who repeatedly submit a new application for refugee recognition because we cannot deport them while their application is being processed. This is, so to speak, an abuse of the system."

Last year, Japan deported nearly 10,000 people. Almost twice as many are required to leave the country. 42 people were recognized as refugees.