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Immigration detainee in Japan suffers neck injury after security guard puts him in headlock

The Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center is seen in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture. (Mainichi/Hironori Tsuchie)

MITO -- A detainee at an immigration center in east Japan sustained a neck injury after a security guard from a private firm assaulted him over a row about a soccer ball, the Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center announced on Aug. 29.

    According to the immigration center's general affairs division, the assault took place during a physical exercise period on the afternoon of Aug. 27. The guard apparently attacked the man after the pair had a dispute over a soccer ball. The security guard explained, "I put him in a headlock playfully because he lied to me about where the ball was," while the detainee was quoted as saying, "It didn't feel like a joke to me." The detainee reportedly claims that he was "strangled" by the guard. There were no witnesses to the incident.

    Though the man claimed he was suffering neck pain that evening, he was not permitted to see a doctor as officials deemed he was not injured. A doctor at an outside hospital examined him as the detainee continued to complain of neck pain the following day. He was then diagnosed with a neck sprain requiring two weeks to heal.

    The immigration center in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Ushiku detains foreign nationals who stayed in Japan illegally. The center's general affairs division did not clarify the gender and age bracket of the security guard in question on the grounds that "it is an issue involving a commissioned private firm." It said that it will decide whether to report the incident to police "based on the wishes of the male victim."

    Immigration center director Tetsuro Isobe commented, "We deeply regret this (incident) that undermined the public's confidence in us. We will strictly demand the security company prevent a recurrence."

    (Japanese original by Takashi Miyazaki, Mito Bureau)

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