The Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture is one of the largest of Japan’s 17 immigration detention facilities. Stories of Japan’s restrictive immigration policies detaining visa overstayers indefinitely, and prohibitive refugee application recognition rates (below 1% in recent years) have long circulated in the news, however the stories of people lost in the system are less visible. In this urgent call for human rights Thomas Ash (Sending Off, JC 2020) utilizes hidden cameras to interview detainees at Ushiku beginning in late 2019, who detail inadequate medical treatment, failure to recognize trans peoples’ gender identity, physical abuse and hunger strikes, all as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic rages in the background, and Japan promotes a surface-level image of acceptance and inclusion in the name of the Tokyo Olympics.
Nippon Docs Award, Nippon Connection Film Festival 2021
“Ash’s unflinching humanitarian documentary is an eye-opening exposé of the bureaucratic heartlessness at the centre of a needlessly hostile and inhumane immigration system.” —Windows on Worlds