People's Forum on Burma, which has its headquarters in Tokyo, said Anwar Hussain, 57, suffered a seizure Oct. 9 but did not get immediate medical care because the only doctor on duty was eating lunch, The Japan Times reported. He died five days later in a hospital.
Maung Hla Maung, Hussain's cousin, said he had been complaining all morning that he had a bad headache, but staff at the detention center ignored him. Both men are members of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.
The People's Forum and other advocates say what happened to Hussain is typical. Junpei Yamamura, a doctor in Yokohama who has visited detainees, said he discovered two with tuberculosis who had not been placed in isolation because medical staff did not run tests for the disease.
Inmates at the Tokyo detention center where Hussain died submitted a petition after his death asking for better medical care.
"Upon feeling sick, we're supposed to tell our staff officers what's wrong so they can examine us. But because they are not qualified doctors, they often end up giving us medicine that doesn't work," their letter said.
Sachiko Asai, a spokeswoman for the immigration service in Tokyo, said full-time doctors are on duty at the detention center three days a week. She said staff are instructed to call ambulances for serious problems on other days and denied detainees are getting poor care.