Japan's Must-Read Magazine

Narita Airport’s Secret Prisons

Christopher Johnson, returning to Japan from Seoul after a three day trip (which he emphatically states "was not a ‘visa run’", emphasis his,) was refused entry into Japan at Narita.

Thirty hours later, he was on a plane back to Canada.

According to him, he was detained, escorted to an underground detention center by private security goons, forced to sign documents, accused of making false statements by his interpreter, shaken down for money, had his (not stuck in Narita hellhole) wife harassed for money, and forced to board a plane at gunpoint (while still being harrased for cash!)

His story is rambling, reads like a bad action movie, and perhaps worst of all, has a fair probability of being true. Similar experiences to his have been quite well documented over the past decade, including this report by Amnesty International.

Or how about the Ghanaian overstayer Mac Barry, who upon being manhandled by the people responsible for him, had the bad manners to die somewhere between the airport’s detention center and his involuntary ride home? Ghanaweb.com offers up this gem:

"The pilot on board the Egypt Air Flight, which was to carry Mc Barry to Ghana upon realising that he was dead, rejected the request of the Japanese Immigration even when they insisted that the remains of Mc Barry should be repatriated."

What really happened to Mac Barry? It was a question the media never asked – they were more interested in the "Ghanaian" and "overstayer" parts of his story than the "died in the extra-legal corporate prison" part.

How many more people have died? How many people are detained there, with no rights whatsoever, at this moment?

Everyone in charge is keeping their mouths shut. No one has ever been held accountable for Mac Barry’s death, or Christopher Johnson’s mistreatment.

So, read Christopher’s story (The Economist has a nicely edited version here) and remember that even if it’s not the truth, it ain’t far from it!

JZ first read about "Narita’s gaijin tank" on debito.org. Cheers!