Cozy prisons coddle foreign inmates


In an article titled “Free to transfer 2,000 yen a month without limit, the reason crime by foreigners doesn’t decline,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Sept 11) looks into crimes by foreigners.

It particularly focuses on crimes by Chinese who, it’s been recently reported, have devised a new way to defraud middle-aged and elderly Japanese, utilizing cell phones while calling long-distance from China in a creative variation of the “it’s me, send money” scam.

The magazine offers an interesting comparison. In 2004, 610,000 Chinese nationals entered Japan. The number prosecuted for thefts and other crimes that year reached 8,691. The same year, 1.08 million holders of passports issued by the Republic of China (Taiwan) entered Japan. Of these, 58 ran afoul of the law, making the arrest/prosecution rate for citizens of China roughly 266 higher than those of Taiwan.

What’s the explanation for such a huge difference? “It’s because of poverty,” an unnamed newspaper reporter is quoted as saying. “By hosting the Olympics, China was supposed to be flaunting its national power. But the affluent account for just a handful and an overwhelming majority of Chinese are gasping with poverty. The authorities even boarded up impoverished neighborhoods along the route of the Marathon race to conceal them from the foreign media. There’s no mistake that China is now facing a serious economic recession.”

Another factor encouraging crimes by Chinese, the article suggests, is Japan’s hospitable penal system, which may be failing to deter crimes by foreigners.

“Those convicted of crimes are required to work, but they receive a stipend of 2,000 yen a month, paid upon their release,” says a writer familiar with the Japanese penal system. “That’s 24,000 yen a year, not even enough to pay for one month’s rent in Japan. But 24,000 yen is equivalent to a month’s wages in mainland China.”

Japanese taxpayers are not only paying to feed and house the foreign criminals, but as an added extra, are even paying them wages for the work they perform in prison. In most countries, the article asserts, this would be unthinkable. Just another way foreign criminals take advantage of the system.

Hearsay even has it that prison inmates from Western countries are served steak on occasion.

“Japanese inmates receive ‘mugi-meshi’ (an unappetizing but nutritious boiled rice-barley mixture) as the staple food. Westerners get meat and bread. That’s awfully accommodating,” the writer remarks.

It would seem that Japan’s penal institutions may be a bit too hospitable to foreign lawbreakers. Shukan Jitsuwa, nevertheless, leaves this matter to readers to ponder without suggesting any draconian measures.

© Japan Today

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Japanese inmates receive ‘mugi-meshi’ (an unappetizing but nutritious boiled rice-barley mixture) as the staple food. Westerners get meat and bread.

Not exactly true. American military prisoners get meat and bread, but that is because their rations are provided by the American military onder the Status of Forces Agreement. Civilian westerners eat the same food as the Japanese prisoners.

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Japanese taxpayers are not only paying to feed and house the foreign criminals, but as an added extra, are even paying them wages for the work they perform in prison.

Not quiet sure how it exactly works in Japan. But we got a similar system in my country. An Inmate works and earns(usually making stuff for the goverment), on the release they deduct a certain percentage to help pay for his stay in the nick.

He usually only receives a small monthly allowance during his imprisonment the rest is savings for when he gets released.

Maybe not the best system but it helps reduce costs of housing and feeding them and also helps some to get re-established in society. The money he gets is designed to help him get setup once he is in the outside world.

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That’s 24,000 yen a year

Yea, they fail to mention all the taxes, health insurance and other misc service charges...

After a year, take your 24,000 - (taxes, fees, ect) Here's your 259 yen, have a nice day...

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Mugi-meshi is not unappetising. I eat it quite often, when there isn't time to cook genmai. I'd prefer it to dead bodies and bread, especially if it's the cheap soft white cotton-wool variety.

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Yes, I actually like mugi-meshi better than regular rice--more flavor, and more nutritional value, too. Not that I'd go to prison to get it.

And the implication of the article that these foreign prisoners intentionally get themselves arrested to take advantage of the monthly stipend is a little bit ridiculous--I think many of them are arrested for crimes that would've netted them a bigger chunk of change in the first place.

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I don't think they get themselves arrested for the money.

But from what I heard the legal system in Japan is why many come here and do their criminal activities here rather than at home.

Sentences here tend to be shorter and also there is less violence, etc in Jail. In some of their home-countries they might even face the death sentence for some of their crimes. Also the pickings seem to be richer here.

If they get deported some are back 1 or 2yrs later with a new identity.

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Yeah, I can see why people would be lining up to work for a month's pay a year and be kept under lock and key in a foreign prison.

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Perhaps one of the lamest, most uninformed articles I have read on this site. Kudos to Hoolie for mentioning the "Status of Forces Agreement" as to why some foreigners are served meat. And as far as as the 2000 yen/month goes.... whoopdee damn do! Skilled labor in some California prisons can get the family members, not the incarcerated prisoner, up to $200/month. Although the average is somewhere around $50/month. US prisoners also eat a hell of a lot better than the J prisoners.

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No matter which way you slice it, being in prison is worse than not being in prison.

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The article is curiously void of cogniscent recognition that they are getting paid to WORK. It is not considered acceptable in countries to which Japan holds itself standard to for a prisoner to be used as slave labor. They are there to be incarcerated. However, if they work, at least they are not slaves in that they are getting paid something. Furthermore, if Japan were to not receive that labor, they would have to pay 10 times or more the cost for a non-prisoner to do it. Mr. article writer isn't looking at the big picture. Japan's not giving them a break... Japan's taking advantage of them.

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While it is one thing to be so obviously anti Chinese, it is another to simply blatantly fabricate the truth. I wish there were ways in which the writer of this article could be made to provide real evidence for his/her preposterous claims or face some kind of sanction.

This is just another example of the many phobias that the Japanese hold about foreigners in general. This week it is the Chinese next week it will most likely be the fledgling African community.

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Japanese taxpayers are not only paying to feed and house the foreign criminals, but as an added extra, are even paying them wages for the work they perform in prison. In most countries, the article asserts, this would be unthinkable.

Okay, first is this supposed to mean that only Japanese taxpayers' money goes towards feeding and housing foreign criminals because I'm not Japanese but I certainly pay taxes. Are my taxes earmarked so they don't go towards feeding and house criminals? And do those taxes go towards housing and feeding only foreign criminals? Are we not feeding Japanese criminals too? Who writes this tripe and why is it published here?

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Cozy? Can't wait to get my feet up by the fireside and enjoy a mug of cocoa.

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British prisons pay between 1600-5000Yen, a week, cash in hand. I suggest these Chinese, go there to commit their crimes.

Yet another sensasionist racist article demeaning foreigners in Japan.

There should be a publice backlash against bthis magazine, for publishing such rubbish, byut as it`s Japan nothing happens, pathetic!

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This article anyway stinks of HEARSAY ONLY!! Another cr@p article of speculation that JT choses to publish to stir up the never wrong folein crowd in Japan.

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This article explains why so many Japanese are so poorly informed and bigoted.

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The prisoners at Yokosuka prison make and the prison sells leather keitai straps, stamped with "Yokosuka Prison" on them in Japanese and English (at least they did a few years ago).

I used to drive the base priest out to the prison once a month so that he could deliver mass, for the curious.

I always wondered who the heck would want one of those. They weren't a hot selling item.


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bushlover: do you agree with the 2channellers that articles which put Japan in a bad light should never be translated and published elsewhere?

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No but this is based on pure speculation not fact.

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This author must have done his research on 2ch.

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Wrong kind of "education" for these foreign criminals. its obvious foreigners have relaxed or different attitude relating to things which some might not even call a crime elsewhere or turn a blind eye ( even if you are a public figure/pop star) if technically it is a crime... just look at the recent increase in drugs stories and its no surprise that the latest saying they were sourced from some black guy in roppongi. How many times have I heard others for example Japanese abroad question the the poor behaviour and standards ( not just criminal) of other countries peoples... many times saying "ah well its lack of education, thats why". Lack of education; harder punishment may deter the educated Japanese nationals... maybe it might the foreigners or maybe also education is required.

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888naff; what a load of rubbish. Seen how Japanese behave after a few drinks? They don`T get arrested for drunkenness, and vile behaviour, but i know a friend of mine who was locked up for 2 days for falling asleep in a doorway when drunk. Public disorder apparently.

Japan treats prisoners like filth. The British bloke released recently for drug smuggling, lost toes due to frost bite. Maybe you should look at Japanese prisons behavior before spouting off about foreigners behind your Japanese rose coloured glasses.

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Thenewfront, I agree with you completely! Japanese interpretation of 'crime' when it comes to foreigners is a bloody joke!

The cops here can't do anything to find wanted murderers, but they bust someone for a joint found in his lost wallet!

While I think that if you go to prison, you should not be given a life of luxury, I also think that in Japan, certain practices within Japanese prisons should be banned, such as allowing guards to tie prisoners up with leather shackles and make them eat like a dog.

I'm surprised Japan doesn't have more prison riots to be honest with the way that prisoners are treated here. Then again, it all starts at ground level with the laws that bind. While some people are sent to prison for stupid matters such as 'disorderly conduct', top officials of NHK and the government, manage to avoid prison because of their ties to the state.

One rule for us, another for them.

At the end of the day, all we can do is teach them bad English!

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Youdontknow, there was a riot in the recent past in a prison in Tokushima. Seems a prison doctor thought the prisoners didn't deserve any rights, and so started forcing anal inspections on them!


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Why in the hell don't we just deport these people and permanently ban their re-entry to the country? That said this is wai wai fodder with its speculation and hearsay

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well, judging by all your comments I can conclude that prison isn't supposed to be a walk in the park and it looks like they live up to the promise.

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Oh of course prison is way more hospitable for foreigners than in their native countries where violence and brutality are everyday norms. these foreign criminals don't know how good they have it, regardless of the usual naysayers whining about how "bad" the Japanese penal system is, etc. etc.

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More pointless xenophobic tripe. The total # of Chinese criminals is still almost unnoticable compared to domestic crime. And the 2,000 yen per month wages are pretty much a pointless consideration for all but those looking for something bad to point at.

Deal with your own domestic crime Japan and Japan's "certian" newspapers. You are far more likely these days to be hit by falling office workers, stabbed by luntatics at the eki or robbed by cycle mounted bag snatchers than you are to be in any way impacted by the tiny number of Chinese committing crimes in Japan.

Deal with the real dangers and stop blaming everything on outsiders when you need to be taking a real hard look in the mirror.

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The foreign crime rate is about one third that of the Japanese themselves. Brazilians and Chinese are higher than the Japanese but every other country/area is lower. The crime rate among Koreans is almost neglible, for example, but it doesn't stop them being considered criminals by the Japanese.

The media is patently full of BS with claims that the number of foreign crimes is 'up' (so is the number of foreigners) or 'foreign crime rate up 16% on last year' (never mind it went down by more than that the year before). They'll distort the stats any way they can.

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Nessie wrote:

"This article explains why so many Japanese are so poorly informed and bigoted."


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cow76- Great informative post.

rjd jr- Your typical pro Japan style post without any facts. Where is the rehabilitation work, the education , the support needed, when going back to the outside world.

Who would go in Jail to make 24,000Yen a year, incarcerated without human rights, no heating, 3rd world medical care, beatings and salve labor.

nigelboy, rjd jr and co, must be so proud of beautifull Japans prison system.

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This issue of what U.S. military members eat in Japanese prison-and who pays for it-was discussed many times on the old JT site. The U.S. pays for the food by preparing it and delivering it to the prison-as per agreement.

As far as other "Westerners" getting special food privileges, that would be up to the Japanese side to confirm or deny.

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Who wrote this? what a crock of BS.

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Notice that whenever the Japanese media outlet or personnel publish statistics about crime and one aspect of it, foreign crime, it is suddenly 'xenohpobic' and 'racist' and other ridiculous name calling. Yet whenever other countries do it (like the U.S. with its breakdown of inmates by race and illegal status, and the costs of incarcerating foreigners/illegals), then in that case it's perfectly normal and an educational eye opener.

Double standards always and forever my friends.

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you're trying to deflect things by stating that these things are accepted in the US, and then crying 'double standards' at us - insinuating that we support such things. That's called 'putting words in peoples mouths' and is usually done by pretty low people, like politicians. You're in good company rjd_jr.

Personally I wouldn't accept this kind of article back home, or in any country for that matter.

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Just ask Nick Baker about being coddled.

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"Oh of course prison is way more hospitable for foreigners than in their native countries where violence and brutality are everyday norms. these foreign criminals don't know how good they have it, regardless of the usual naysayers whining about how "bad" the Japanese penal system is, etc. etc.".

Got any facts to back this up with? Or just another one of your many made up stories? One again your stereotyping is absolutely appalling. Just double standards always and forever from rdj jr.

As if anyone would think 24000 yen would be satisfactory. According to story in the Japan Times a while back these people who get sent back to China with criminal records don't have a very good time back there. And it is usually because they are targetted here in Japan by unscrupulous Japanese people they become forced into crime.

As stated in the article, a lot of this is just hearsay. Seems like this magazine hardly researches its articles at all.

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Ah good ole rj_jr and his valuable insights of a country thousands of miles from where he lives.

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freakashow- Many inmates have died at the hands of Japanese prison guards.

A high pfressued hose into the anus was one of the methods used to kill an inmate.

Others have died due to medieval restraining methods. The prisoners are hardly coddled.

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That may be true (although I'm wondering why you haven't included any sources - I have), but I'm just reiterating the facts (as evidenced by my sources). I'm searching for your sources, as we speak.

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freaksashow; I am giving instances i recall.

Deaths and inhumane conditions etc can be found at debito`s , and Amnesty Japans site.

The hose incident i read here, when it bwas CRiss Cross, a couple of years back.

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I have never been in jail, but a friend has (he was under arrest for 20 days because they thought he could have done something close to something illegal... and he was from Peru).THey do not let you read anything that is not in Japanese, speak with other immates in a language that is not Japanese. I really doubt that they give foreigners "meat and bread". Besides, the implication that people would like to get arrested so they can make 2000 yen a month is ridiculous.

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your friend was in a holding center not prison. i was there too for about 4 days until i paid 500K JPY to get out. it is a scam. a friend of mine get taken for 1M JPY recently. just remember, if you are ever in a fight/disagreement and the guy wants to call the cops then just run away. there is no due process here. i was in a fight and it was my word against his. i lost. he wanted 500K and i said NO. then i sat in jail for 4 days and paid my lawyer 500K to get me out (bribe to someone) plus an additonal 100K to the government.

food - rice, bread, honey. no meat no shower - once a day you can clean up in a sink. 2 smokes in morning i could read english but only between 10-6. my glasses were taken from me a 6:01. i had my own cell. at night you are provided a futon, pillow and blanket. at 7 AM this is taken from you.

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I am giving instances i recall

I do agree with you, that violence happens in every prison in the world, Japan included. I'm just asking kindly that you post a few sources so that I could check them out myself. That would be greatly appreciated. Please note that in a court of law, someone who quotes from actual sources and evidence will more often win the jury's verdict, over "recalled testimonies".

As for the topic of this article, I don't agree that criminals actually think about the level of violence within a potential prison they may end up in, when they are committing a crime. Yes, you may have a point, that there are a few incidents of violence in Japan.

Moderator: The subject is Japanese prisons.

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Here is an interesting post concerning Japanese prisons to look at:

Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is for you to post your opinion on the topic, not just post URLs.

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Some info (4 years outdated, because I stopped working as a translator): 1) they do get steaks occasionally 2) they have some magazines and books in foreign languages, but not much 3) they can receive packages, including books, magazines in their native language 4) they are allowed to watch TV occasionally 5) my guys complained more about the other inmates than about the guards 6) never been inside, but from their words I understand that the conditions are decent 7) abuses and violence do happen from time to time, but where doesn't?

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Schofield....get me out of here

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People shouldn't go to other countries with intent to break their laws.

Like Baretta said, pardner, "If you can'ts do the time..."


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larguero, you don't have to go to jail. Yes, your friend could have been in before but you don't need to brag about it because you don't have to be in jail.

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How many here have been to jail in japan. Non I suppose so anything is probably hearsay with little fact. I have been to jail in japan. Best damn vacation I ever had. I didn't get steak, but the food was alright. I was given the shower room to my self once every three days, and I was given 1 hour of exercise time with my smokes. My wife brought me books, magazines, clothes and toiletries. I confessed to my crime so I didn't have hard time with the prosecutor, I guess it was hard to say I didn't do it when I beat down 4 yak wanna be,s in the street.

I know a few others that have been to japans hardest prison in Hokkaido and said it was still a vacation compared to any other country. Look Rape is almost non existent, prisoners get religion real quick on the inside, pretty dosil I might add. If they follow orders they are taken care of pretty well, its not gladiator school like some of you might think.

If you go to the video store there are a few movies on the subject discerning forien and japanese inmates and how they fared in their incarceration.

How can I compare all this, well Im no angel and will admit to all my faults. I spent a few rounds in the poky when I was younger. I had to stop messin around when my brother became chief of police in our city. Most of my misdeeds were traffic violations so no victims until japan. Sorry your not going to punch my wife in the face and walk away without regretting it.

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You went to jail for a good reason. I used to harass the Yaks when I was full of dutch courage. I started getting paranoid when I was sober.

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DXXKP, so you protected your family in self-defense and they sent you to jail?!

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ColAmerica said:

A high pfressued hose into the anus was one of the methods used to kill an inmate.

Oh my scary god! Is this true? That just freaks me out.

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Like I always say, while in Jpn if you get into trouble, whatever it is DO NOT wait for the cops, even if its totally obvious yr not at fault you will end up at the very least answering questions for hrs or end up locked up, there is no due process here, you just get processed

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From the tone and meter of the article sounds like what they really want to say id; "kill 'em all".

The writer is sweating 2000 yen a month, when most 1st world countries do pay their inmates a minumul amount....

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