FILE PHOTO: An inside view of a shared cell is seen at the East Japan Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan, March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Thomas Wilson
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Vietnamese man who died in a solitary cell at a Japanese immigration detention centre complained of pain throughout his detention for a week before his death, fellow detainees said.
The death was the 13th in Japan's detention system since 2006, a toll that has provoked sustained criticism from activists and a watchdog overseeing the centres about conditions prevailing there.
In a handwritten note seen by Reuters on Tuesday, six detainees said the man, Nguyen The Hung repeatedly told guards he was suffering from pain after his arrival at the East Japan Immigration Center in mid-March.
Nguyen complained of pains in his neck and head, the detainees added.
An official at the centre northeast of Tokyo, the capital, declined to comment, beyond a statement on Monday that a Vietnamese man in his forties had been found unconscious there on Saturday and later pronounced dead.
A Vietnamese nun, citing information from the Vietnamese embassy in Tokyo, told Reuters Nguyen had killed himself at the facility in the prefecture of Ibaraki.
The embassy did not immediately reply to telephone and email requests for comment.
Nguyen was prescribed painkillers by a doctor at the centre on Wednesday, the detainees said in their letter, only for guards to ignore his later complaints of pain and admonish him to be quiet.
A Reuters investigation into the death of a Sri Lankan held in a solitary cell at a Tokyo detention centre revealed serious gaps in medical care and monitoring of people held in Japan's immigration detention system.
The cause of Nguyen's death has not been announced. The centre and the country's Justice Ministry, which oversees detention centres, have said the authorities would perform an autopsy.
The East Japan Immigration Center held 297 detainees at the end of last year, according to the Justice Ministry.
(Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by William Mallard and Clarence Fernandez)