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Nigerian man 'starved' to death in Japanese immigration detention

By Elizabeth Shim
Nigerian man 'starved' to death in Japanese immigration detention
Japanese authorities revealed Tuesday a Nigerian man died in immigration detention in June. File Photo by Kimimasa Mayama/EPA-EFE

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A Nigerian man died of starvation in a Japanese immigration detention center in June, Japanese authorities said Tuesday.

The man, who is divorced and has family in Japan, was detained for illegally residing in the country, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

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The unidentified man was reportedly in his 40s at the time of his death. He had previously been convicted for theft but was released from prison in November 2015, according to the report.

The man died after three weeks of fasting while protesting his detention at Omura Immigration Center in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture. He refused food and medical treatment, according to Japan's Immigration Services Agency.

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The man's death on June 24 is the 14th case of a death in a Japanese immigration detention center, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations said. He had been detained since 2015, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The Asahi Shimbun reported the man lost nearly 30 pounds during his hunger strike, until the time of his death.

The man first entered Japan in 2000, then was convicted of theft and "other crimes." He was released on bail in 2015, but was sent directly to immigration detention until the time of his death.

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Japan's bar association had issued a statement in August, demanding an investigation into the cause of death. The group criticized "worsening conditions" in immigration detention centers in Japan, according to the Asahi.

The bar association also claimed Japanese immigration authorities released other detained immigrants following the death, but arrested them again in two weeks.

"The problem of prolonged detainment should be resolved by facilitating repatriation," Japan's immigration said in its report.

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Hunger strikes in Japanese detention centers have occurred in the past, according to Japanese activists.

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