Human Rights Abuses In Japan’s Detention Centers

The Japan Diet is debating controversial reforms to the immigration law that, if passed, will allow authorities to forcibly deport those who fail to qualify for asylum after two attempts. The recent death of a Sri Lankan woman in the care of detention authorities in Nagoya has again led activists to decry the inhumane treatment.

“Ushiku”, the new film by Tokyo-based documentary filmmaker Thomas Ash, promises to take viewers deep into the psychological and physical environment of foreigners held at Japan’s largest immigration detention center in the city of Ushiku in Ibaraki prefecture. Through secretly-recorded interviews, he gives a voice to these detainees, many of whom are refugees seeking asylum. While not much is discussed or known overseas about Japan’s alleged human rights abuses, a spate of deaths in detention centers over the years is allegedly the direct result of detainees being held indefinitely—sometimes without prompt medical care—and subject to violent deportation attempts.

Ash will be joined by three former detainees at this FCCJ press conference to discuss the immigration issues covered by his film. He will also talk about the ongoing Diet debate, and how he hopes the new film can cut through the noise of the Olympics to raise awareness of a timely issue.

Having lived in Japan for 18 years and fluent in Japanese, Ash has done extensive award-winning documentary work on hard-hitting issues that are often neglected by the mainstream media. His films have covered the male sex trade, child sexual abuse, and end-of-life care.