crime

Runny curry, no pudding spoons among complaints of Japanese prison inmates

40 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

Japan’s Penal Institution Visiting Committee recently released its latest report based on observations and feedback from inmates at correctional facilities across the nation, with the data having been collected in 2014.

In many ways, Japan is a foodie’s paradise, with a rich culinary culture that makes it easy to find great meals even in remote, rural locations or budget-priced casual restaurants. But those same high standards for flavor and ambiance aren’t necessarily present inside the nation’s jailhouse dining halls. Some inmates grumbled about their food not being warm enough during the winter months, and one older convict was unhappy having to peel his own oranges, which he says is a challenge for incarcerated seniors.

A more specific complaint came from one of the wards of Fukui Prison, who told the Visiting Committee: “The curry is watery. I want them to care enough to add some starch, so it won’t be so runny.”

Sparingly enough, the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Corrections was receptive to his request, and has since started looking into adding starch to its curry to produce a more substantial texture. Still, an executive spokesperson for the Bureau insisted that there was nothing necessarily wrong with the prior method of making the dish. “All food is tasted by the cooking staff before being served to inmates, and I’ve sampled the curry as well. Compared to what would be served in an ordinary cafeteria, it isn’t bad. As for the proper texture, a lot of that depends on the individual preferences of the person eating it.”

Meanwhile, at Obihiro Prison, the problem for one convict wasn’t the food itself, but rather how he had to eat it.

“When they serve pudding or yogurt, I want a spoon. [Without one] I have to stir it up with my chopsticks, then put my mouth on the cup and drink it.”

Our more inventive readers may have already spotted the problem, though, in that the difference between a plastic or metal spoon and a plastic or metal shiv is just a bit of frame-snapping force applied at the right angle. But once again, the wardens were receptive to this desire, and as of the end of last December, Obihiro Prison has authorized the supply of spoons made of paper so that inmates can enjoy their prison pudding in the same civilized manner as people on the outside.

If mealtime is one of the few things prisoners have to look forward to, bath time is surely another. At Fuchu Prison, even those without a clean rap sheet expressed a desire for more frequent or longer chances to wash up, as shown by these two inmate requests.

“I want bath time extended from 15 to 30 minutes.”

“I want to be given the opportunity to bathe more than two or three times a week.”

Currently, the Ministry of Justice stipulates that inmates must be allowed to bathe at least twice a week, but anything beyond that seems to be at the discretion of the individual institutions. Prisons that are reluctant to grant requests for expanded bathing privileges cite the limited capacity of their current bath facilities. Expanding them would require more space, new construction, and also a greater number of guards to keep watch on a larger number of bathers spread across a larger area, all of which would necessitate increased budgets.

Nevertheless, some prisoners’ rights advocates argue that investing in such improvements would be justifiable on the grounds that the kinder treatment of inmates would aid in their rehabilitation and help produce a desire to contribute to lawful society upon their release. Whether such an argument will be persuasive in the law-abiding, order-craving environment of Japanese society at large, though, is yet to be seen.

Source: Yahoo! News Japan

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Prison Culture Festival: All the fun of incarceration, none of the crime! -- Inmate of Tohoku prison within nuclear evacuation zone sues TEPCO for emotional distress -- Nintendo DS on the menu as Japanese prisons get creative to keep ageing prisoners’ brains active

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


40 Comments
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It's Called "Prison"! Not a Holiday Inn! When You're In "prison" you're not supposed to be getting "anything" highquality. You're Being punished for the crime you chose to commite.

2 ( +19 / -17 )

Execute a random prisoner every time the suggestion box fills up. See how long it takes to fill up after that.

-17 ( +7 / -24 )

julian genesis neal total agreed.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Nightmares, injuries, heartbreak, and death among complaints of Japanese prison inmate victims.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Who knows what facts and truths have been nicked and assembled in this article, but reading this makes life in prison sound like it's a better alternative for the 'unemployed' who commit crimes.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Julian Genesis Neal,

It's Called "Prison"! Not a Holiday Inn! When You're In "prison" you're not supposed to be getting "anything" highquality. You're Being punished for the crime you chose to commite.

Exactly right. Oh, and consider this. The care of these criminals and the cost of their food is being paid for by the very society they committed their crimes against.

@PTownsend,

Who knows what facts and truths have been nicked and assembled in this article, but reading this makes life in prison sound like it's a better alternative for the 'unemployed' who commit crimes.

And, indeed, many older men are actually committing crimes in order to get into prison (or back in, in the case of ex-cons) because they believe life on the inside is better/easier than life on the outside. This is a growing trend, with robberies of the conbini being the favoured approach.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I have been to a Japanese prison before (not as an inmate), they are incredibly horrible places and the complaints in this article seem to be incredibly minor ones in the easy/cheap to fix category that would be in the interest of officials to release.

Prisoners sleep on the floor in groups of 7-9 per 10 mat sized room. I was told by a guard that the number one hardest thing for prisoners is having to live in such cramped conditions with room mates who are all criminals, some of them violent. The cells are postwar concrete structures which freeze in winter and boil in summer.

It is the most brutal and depressing environment imaginable. The bathing room is equally awful. The article makes them sound like debutantes complaining about the poor quality of food in their leisure, but they actually lead incredibly harsh lives in austere conditions. Of course it is prison so it is supposed to be tough like that, my point is merely that you shouldn't get the wrong idea from the article about them being pampered.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

I remember reading a story of Philippine officials coming to Japan to examine their prison system to make sure their incarcerated citizens in Japan were treated with decency. They were satisfied with what they saw and went home. And check out the American embassy on the explanation of the legal system in Japan if you are busted. Really! It's funny as it says stuff to the effect of "don't worry, it's safe" :

Japanese prisons are generally safe places with none of the violence or gang activity that the popular cinema associates with prison life in the U.S. While the many rules and regulations at the prison may seem petty and mindless to you, they are in fact part of the overall security plan which creates a physically safe environment for the detainees. It is precisely because of this intense regimentation that the guards are able to effectively control the prison population.

Cinemas! They bring up Hollywood. So funny. Well, it's a safe place where you don't be shanked or become someone's prison....(you know what). It's boring as heck but at least you get to leave physically in one piece.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Exactly right. Oh, and consider this. The care of these criminals and the cost of their food is being paid for by the very society they committed their crimes against.

@zones2surf Thank You for pointing that too. That's another thing that really pisses me off.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

They do know their incarceration is a punishment, right? It's not a country club.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

the difference between a plastic or metal spoon and a plastic or metal shiv is just a bit of frame-snapping force applied at the right angle.

Some people have been watching too much TV. A broken chopstick rammed into the carotid artery with sufficient force isn't a possiblilty? I doubt very sincerely the dangers of turning a spoon into a shiv is what's at work here. It likely has more to do with keeping prison operational costs at a minimum.

Prison isn't Club Med, nor should it be. Have to eat your puding with chopsticks? Boo frickin' hoo. Finish your sentence without incident, re-enter society as a non-asshat contributing member, and don't screw up again. Then you can use a spoon to eat all the pudding you'd like.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Don't like it .... Don't do the crime if you don't want to do the time. They can kiss my ass.. Put them in an U.S. prison and they will get chocolate... Chocolate city that is....

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Of course there would be prisoners who complain about trivial discomforts. What bothers me about this article is that it picks these anecdotes to insinuate (as other posters have rightly noted) that Japan's prisons are overly cushy. And of course that brings out the outrage among some readers who haven't properly considered the source of this article (Casey Baseel of Rocket News 24) or the truly serious human rights violations that do occur in Japanese prisons.

As an example, this year's U.S. State Department report on human rights in Japan:

“Observers documented inadequate medical treatment, including for detainees and prisoners with pre-existing medical conditions. . . . Dental care was minimal and access to palliative care was lacking.”

That, and other serious violations, are not trivial.

Shamefully irresponsible article.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Considering that most of the prisoners are innocent fall-guys tortured into phony confessions....

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

They need to reminded they are in prison doing time for their crime, and a prison is supposed to be uncomfortable so that they think twice before committing a crime again.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

“Observers documented inadequate medical treatment, including for detainees and prisoners with pre-existing medical conditions. . . . Dental care was minimal and access to palliative care was lacking.”

They got themselves into prison. How are they owed medical and dental treatment?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Id like to thank everyone who thumbs down Mine & other peoples similar comments. Love knowing their are people who believe criminals (some of which are "Murderers") deserve be to treated like they're on a Cruise to the Bahamas. #Sarcasm

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

They got themselves into prison. How are they owed medical and dental treatment?

Are you suggesting that Japan and other developed democracies disregard the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners agreed to by United Nations members since 1955? Restated as a resolution establishing Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners in 1990:

"Prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation."

There are, of course, some countries in the world that completely disregard this principle. But I doubt that the Japanese government or population would feel at ease supporting the prison systems of places such as North Korea or Eritrea. Are you?

Runny curry? Yes, I understand that complaint is silly. Denial of medical care? Come on.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@plasticmonkey

Runny curry? Yes, I understand that complaint is silly.

I agree with you on most points however, "runny curry" without a spoon... ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Are you suggesting that Japan and other developed democracies disregard the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners agreed to by United Nations members since 1955? Restated as a resolution establishing Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners in 1990:

That's exactly what they are suggesting.

It's a sad that we've reached a day and age of no compassion. It's easy to hate. It's a lot harder to do the right thing.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The supposed goal of some prisons, for a short time, back when people thought about such things, was rehabilitation, not punishment. Now the suggestion is to make them suffer like they made others suffer, gaining a kind of joy in the vengeance taken out on the prisoner... kind of a Scrooge on bad steroids.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Anyone in any prison (even the best conditions) is going to have degraded health. They age prematurely and have lots of medical risks with or without adequate care as they live their lives in boxes. But at least in a J. prison I won't have to be rushed to the ER for being assaulted as stated by the American embassy. Take your pick. But any prison in any part of the world you are waiting endlessly for nothing as time goes by slowly. Japan must be doing something right if the prison population is around 10% that of the states, give or take while America's war on drugs....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I heard prisoners in Japan aren't even allowed to speak to one another unless specific permission is given, but maybe this has changed. As rainyday writes above, by all accounts prisons in Japan are very spartan and rough places. Maybe that's how it should be and it's another reason that the death penalty can be considered to be the easy way out. A Japanese prison is true punishment.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Runny curry? That is what rice is for, just mix it in like I do and it works just fine. Why do so many japanese eat curry anyway. I once asked one of my japanese coworkers where curry came from and got a puzxled look and the answer was japan of course. Getting back to crime and punishment matters, prison is not supposed to be clubmed but neither is it to be a hell on earth that is decided by whomever oversees the local prison. There are a lot of sick people mental jobs who love their jobs and get enjoyment out of inflicting pain and undue pressure on people who cant fight back. You put a bad dog in a cage and beat him every day and it is not going to come out better and can assimilate into society.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Runny curry and chopsticks ... this is not a punishment .... it s actually an innovative new diet plan for the 21st Century.

The only negative is that you need 6 hours or more to eat a meal, but of course eating your food slowly is also great for your digestion.

At the same time I guess it introduces a whole new meaning to the expression ".... having a long lunch"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No need to give these criminal any luxury of normal life .... restaurant trash will be more than enough for them. I rather see my tax money goes to hospitals , schools , infrastructure and not for these trash people.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

PM: Are you suggesting that Japan and other developed democracies disregard the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners agreed to by United Nations members since 1955?

Sure. Let them have all the access they can pay for. Advertise "Inmate Medical Treatment Bonds" that caring citizens such as PlasticMonkey can buy to pay for the treatment of inmates. In return give the purchasers cute little inmate cards with photos on front and details of daily activities, food likes, dreams for the future, etc., on the back.

Hawkeye: Why do so many japanese eat curry anyway. I once asked one of my japanese coworkers where curry came from and got a puzxled look and the answer was japan of course.

Japanase Navy brought it back from British Navy who brought it from India. Think it was late 1800's or early 1900's, wikipedia doesn't say the date.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_curry

The Imperial Japanese Navy adopted curry from the Royal Navy, and now the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Friday menu is curry.[2]

Here's around 40 recipes for Japanese curries from a govt website, mostly named after naval ships (it's the link for footnote [2] in text above).

http://www.mod.go.jp/msdf/formal/family/recipe/archive/currey.html

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Do these prisoners get xboxs and stuff to play on like our prisoners? (in the UK)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

incarceration is a punishment, * exactly, while the food may not be tasty it will keep you alive. mental anguish is all part of going to prison, if you dont want to experience it dont commit the f crime.
2 ( +5 / -3 )

Oh, I feel so sorry for them - NOT! It's a nloodt prison! It's not a hotel! I wish I got pudding every day!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Get them some pink uniforms, and double up on the runny curry.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm surprised that being left in a freezing, unheated cell in winter, contracting pneumonia and being denied medical treatment wasn't a complaint. I expect any serious complaints were shredded and ignored, leaving only the trivial complaints reported above.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

“I want to be given the opportunity to bathe more than two or three times a week.”

This request should be granted immediately. There is no excuse for forcing people, whom you are supposedly trying to rehabilitate and make atone for their crimes, to be unclean. If anything daily bathing should be a requirement.

The limited capacity of bathing facilities is nonsense. One single shower stall would suffice for 240 prisoners if 10-minute intervals were allocated around the clock. Even bathing in the middle of the night is better than not bathing at all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Considering the way the minds of the authoritarians who work in prisons work (poorly), the complaints questionnaire might have been multiple choice.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

ThonTaddeoSep. 13, 2015 - 09:11PM JST The limited capacity of bathing facilities is nonsense. One single shower stall would suffice for 240 prisoners if 10-minute intervals were allocated around the clock. Even bathing in the middle of the night is better than not bathing at all.

Bathing people around the clock isn't feasible. Especially when you consider the fact prisoners are made to sleep around 9 in the evening, getting additional security details to escort prisoners one by one to bathe would be a significant expense. In addition, being woken up to bathe would probably be against human rights in some way or another.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This "article" is nothing but fluff. Anyone who has been in Japan for any period of time can recall the harsher realities of Japan's penal system. Systematic beatings, neglect of medical conditions, denial of basic human rights, unreported homicides, etc., have all been reported in the press. I can also remember stories of corporal punishment resulting in death. "Runny curry" is the least of the inmate's problems. If Japan's prisons are such a paradise, why is the nation always appearing in Amnesty International reports?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is what happens when you go to prison. Prisoners can keep on eating runny curry, bathe once a week, or buy the things you want from the prison commissary (?) and pay to bathe more than once a week. Welcome to your lovely home.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't understand why people in the Comments are whining about criminals complaining about prison conditions. It was a survey...they were asked the question...what would you have them answer...'Everything is peaches and cream'?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was in Odawara recently and we park outside this prison and right next door was mobil plant depot with all sorts of machines. To my surprise I there were Cherry pickers , D12,s and Front End Loaders. A prison break just waiting to happen if it was in another country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Brian WhewaySep. 13, 2015 - 05:03PM JST "Do these prisoners get xboxs and stuff to play on like our prisoners? (in the UK)"

Unfortunately not, that's a UK and USA exclusive.

@ Julian Genesis NealSep. 13, 2015 - 09:40AM JST "Id like to thank everyone who thumbs down Mine & other peoples similar comments. Love knowing their are people who believe criminals (some of which are "Murderers") deserve be to treated like they're on a Cruise to the Bahamas. #Sarcasm"

I love your post, I'm sure you that, those who are giving you thumbs down would have thought differently had it been their loved ones murdered or affected.

In the US, the judge is not allowed to set a court hearing if they are personally involved, why? They would let their emotions get the best of them. This proves my point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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