Headline, June 09 2021/ ''' '' JAPAN'S MIGRANT JARRING '' '''


 JARRING '' '''

STUDENT WISHMA RATHNAYAKE - A HOPEFUL YOUNG woman had come to Japan with dreams of teaching English.

In the summer of 2017, she began studying Japanese at a school in the Tokyo suburbs. On her Facebook page, she shared photos of trips to Buddhist temples and to the mountains, where she delighted in snow.

But fate had something also in store for her. First came high fever. Then her face and limbs turned numb. Soon, she could keep down little more than water, sugar and bites of bread as she wasted away in her cell in a Japanese detention center.

By early March, Wisham Rathnayake - a migrant from Sri Lanka who was being held for overstaying her visa - could barely make a fist and was having trouble speaking, according to government records detailing her care.

YET week after week, as she begged to be released to a hospital for treatment, her jailers refused. She and her supporters believed that the authorities had already made their own diagnosis. She was faking her illness to avoid deportation to her native Sri Lanka.

On March 6, at the age of 33, Rathnayake died alone in her cell. The official cause till May 19, was yet to be determined.

The case has become a source of outrage for critics of Japan's immigration system, who say the real culprit is an opaque and capricious immigration bureau that has nearly unchecked power over foreigners who run afoul of it.

The silence around Ms. Rathnayke's death from government officials has only added fuel to a national reckoning in Japan. A country with a long history of hostility toward immigrants now grappling with its at times inhumane treatment of foreigners, especially people of color, and many are calling for change.

Most immigration decisions are made by the government in secret, offering migrants little recourse to the courts. The system allows people who overstay their visas or who have entered the country illegally to be held indefinitely, sometimes for years.

'' It is particularly unwelcoming of asylum claims. Japan, the world's third-largest economy, settles fewer than 1 percent of applicants - just 47 last year - a point of contention among other countries that have called on Tokyo to do more.

Immigration officials are ''police, prosecutors, judges and jailers,'' said Yoichi Kinoshita, who left the government's immigration bureau over its lack of clear standards to guide its sometimes life-or-death decisions. He now runs on advocacy group focused on fixing the system.

Then one Tuesday later, the Japanese government, facing growing pressure over Ms. Rathnayake's death, made two major concessions.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party abandoned an effort to revise Japan's immigration law, as opposition law lawmakers said they would not start debate over the changes unless the government released video footage of Ms. Rathnayake taken in the detention center just before she died.

The government had argued that the revisions would improve treatment of detainees, in part by stopping lengthy detentions, which have drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups for decades.

But critics took particular issues with changes that would have allowed Japan to forcefully repatriate asylum seekers, potentially returning them to dangerous situations in their home countries.

Also one last Tuesday, the justice minister, Yoko Kaamikawa, agreed to meet with Ms. Rathnayake's two sisters to ''express my condolence.'' Ms. Kamikawa has repeatedly declined to address the specifics of Ms. Rathnayke's death.

These lawmakers want to overhaul an immigration system in which the outcomes for those caught inside can be bleak. At least 24 detainees have died since 1997, according to Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees.

Activists have alleged government negligence in some cases, most recently the deaths in 2020 of an Indonesian man and in 2019 of a Nigerian man on a hunger strike. Official inquiries have not supported the accusations.

None of the other cases have inspired the public anger engendered by the death of Ms. Rathnayake.

In the flow of time, she received a letter from her ex-boyfriend. He knew that she had reported him to the police, and he wrote that he would seek revenge if she returned to Sri Lanka.

Ms. Rathnayake decided she would be safer in Japan. With the encouragement of a local nonprofit organization, START, she decided to stay.

The move irritated officials at the detention center, said Yasunori Matsui, the group's adviser. They demanded that she change her mind, she told him during one of his frequent visits.

Despite the severity of her symptoms, officials waited until March 4 to take Ms. Rathnayake to a hospital.

A psychiatrist who examined her wrote that her sponsors had told her that being sick would improve her chances of being released, according to a medical record reviewed by The Times and first reported by TBS, a Japanese broadcaster START denies the allegations.

Two days later, Ms. Rathyake was dead.

At the end of April, a group of opposition lawmakers held a video meeting with Ms. Rathnayake's mother, and two sisters. One after another, they conveyed their deepest apologies and asked what they could do to help assuage the family's grief.

''I want to know why they let her suffer,'' her mother said. ''Why didn't they take her to the hospital as soon as possible?''

The Sadness of this publishing is shared by the students of the entire world. The World Students Society thanks authors Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno.

With respectful dedication to the people of Japan, Students, Professors and Teachers, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Pains - Pawns '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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