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Thread: Japanese Prison

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Default Japanese Prison

    Back in 86-87 while in Okinawa with the USMC we were lectured that Japanese prisons were the most Draconian in the free world. That if arrested we would spend the bulk our time meditating on our crimes in a cell which you could neither stand up nor lay down in kneeling.(I am picturing seiza but the instructor did not use that word).

    Fast forward to last night I heard on NPR about Japanese little old ladies deliberately getting multiple shop lifting arrests to go to prison which was like a nice nursing home.
    I also read an article today where among other things it said the food in Japanese prison was excellent.

    now I can think of a couple possibilities.
    The Marine corps exaggerated to keep us out of trouble.
    Maybe it is just cultural- maybe to Japanese being asked to sit in seiza all day isn't so bad.
    Maybe prison reform has been significant in Japan in the last 30 years.
    Maybe high and low level offenders go to radically different prisons.

    Anyway I would be interested in hearing from anyone with info.
    Len McCoy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Hiroshima, Japan.
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    I think there is more than one issue here.

    Perhaps your USMC lecturer used a commonly accepted picture of Japanese as short legged and used to sitting in seiza almost from birth. I have just returned from the Netherlands and can accepted another picture, this time of Dutch men, who have uncommonly long legs, in proportion to the rest of the body. Add American 'bulk' and you can assume that the composite picture of a 'westerner' would not fit Japanese prisons, even if both are really a caricature. I spent ten years as a member of a local police support group and we were once shown round a Japanese detention house. The cells are not large, but it is nonsense to suggest that they are too small for 'average' non-Japanese.

    The second problem is that of aging. Japan's population is declining and you have the situation of older Japanese living alone. Actually, I live alone and all my immediate neighbors also live alone. They are women and have lost their husbands--in quick succession. I am over 70 and my neighbors are older, so the combined age is over 300 years. The social services are quite good, but you have the prospect of older Japanese--especially women accustomed to looking after husbands and raising children, living alone and having nothing to do.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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