Bobby Fischer Case: 1997 report documents Japanese Abuses

By now most of the chess world has read the latest events about Bobby Fischer's detention in Japan. Fischer was taken into custody for what Japanese authorities claim was a violation of passport regulations. The chess legend is beginning to establish legal basis for his defense and many have chess personalities (including Boris Spassky) have spoken out. In a bizarre twist in this case, Miyoko Watai has announced that she and the beleaguered chess champion have decided to marry. This complicates matters, but it is unclear whether it will change the deportation proceedings that are underway. has been covering the case, and has compiled a list of news reports on this case of international importance. However, what has not been pointed out (in media reports) is Japan's historic abuse of foreigners taken in custody. In 1997, Amnesty International released a report titled,
"Japan: Ill Treatment of Foreigners in Detention" citing the cases of abuse by Japanese authorities. The report states,

GM Bobby Fischer in Japanese custody.

Fischer claims to have been "almost killed" upon his arrest.

"Detainees awaiting deportation have been deprived of adequate access to the outside world, including medical doctors of their own choice, lawyers, friends and human rights activists. Some have died in custody, while others have been denied permission to take medicine for chronic diseases."

The Japanese government submitted a report attempting to rebuke the 46-page report  (pertaining to illegal documents) in which was stated:

"The second paragraph states that many foreigners in detention centres suffer arbitrary punishments at the hands of Immigration Bureau officials, or are detained, beaten and deprived of access to the outside world due to the mere possession of forged travel documents. However, this description is inaccurate, as imprisonment is always properly performed under relevant legislation. Immigration Bureau officials do not beat suspects on the grounds of possession of forged travel documents, though they may stop them from hiding or destroying evidence, or may restrain them from resorting to violence. The Bureau allows [Immigration Detention Centre] inmates to meet visitors and to dispatch and receive correspondence, unless there are security or health reasons [not to allow such meetings or correspondence]."

In the picture above, Fischer certainly appears in a disheveled state and has reportedly born bruises attesting to his mistreatment. From all available reports he appears to have been denied the rights of due process and was detained under suspicious circumstances. The chess world is completely horrified at these proceedings and at the poor diplomacy shown by the Japanese and U.S. governments in this matter. Fischer has since scrawled the renunciation of his citizenship in a four-page letter addressed to "Peter" at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in an attempt to avoid deportation. Given the obvious abuse, Fischer's pending marriage will certainly complicate matters if in fact Fischer decides to press charges on his abuse. This entire case is a disgrace.

Amnesty International' s report on Abuse in Japan  (November 1997)

Response by Japanese Government (February 1998), "Fischer Renounces U.S. Citizenship"

The Chess Drum, "Opinion: The Bobby Fischer Dilemma"

(Thanks to James Jackson for forwarding the Amnesty International report.)

Posted by The Chess Drum: 18 August 2004