Japan apologises for the death of Sri Lankan woman in immigration detention

Japan on Tuesday apologised for the death of a Sri Lankan woman in immigration detention and pledged to reform conditions in their immigration system.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said a report on the March death of 33-year-old Wishma Sandamali concluded she received inadequate treatment as her health deteriorated. 

“I express my heartfelt condolences to her mother and bereaved family, and my heartfelt apologies for (the) loss of this precious life in the detention centre,” Kamikawa said.

The minister said the report had not conclusively determined the cause of Sandamali’s death but found the detention centre in Nagoya in central Japan “lacked a system to assess the health of detainees and provide medical services”.

“I have instructed the chief of the immigration services agency to take control and supervise regional outlets appropriately. We will carry out reforms with the determination that this never happens again,” Kamikawa said.

Sandamali was detained for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

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