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 White paper on crime 2004 Part5/Chapter2/Section1/4. 

4. Movements toward the amendment of the Prison Law(1975-early Heisei period)

  As shown above,the scheme for the correction and treatment of adult offenders in Japan was improved,under the principle of achieving rehabilitation and reintegration into society of prisoners,through the accumulation of provisions subordinate to the Prison Law,such as ministerial ordinances and circulars.However,the Prison Law per se did not go through any substantial amendment since its establishment in1908,and it became inconsistent with the international principle of prison management and also unsatisfactory from the perspective of criminal policy of promoting rehabilitation and reintegration into society of prisoners.
  Under such circumstances,the Minister of Justice consulted with the Legislative Council in1976for the amendment of the Prison Law,and the Penal Institution Bill was drafted based on a report submitted by the Council in1980.The main points of the bill were as follows.(i)In order to clarify the legal relationship between the state and prison inmates, the bill explicitly indicated the rights of inmates regarding religious activities,access to books,prison visits,and written communication,while specifying the requirements,procedures,and limitations of restrictions on daily lives and activities of inmates including measures to maintain prison order and disciplinary punishments and also provided for the complaint system by which inmates could obtain remedies for their rights through proper and promote proceedings.(ii)In order to assure appropriate standards of living for inmates, the bill intended to improve medical care,meals,and commodity supplies for inmate s,and included provisions on reward for prison work and accident allowance.(iii)In order to develop an effective treatment system for achieving rehabilitation and reintegration into society of prisoners, the bill clarified the philosophy of"individualization of treatment,"i.e.applying the optimal method for treating prisoners depending on the personality of individual prisoners and the circumstances surrounding them;in particular,the bill clearly stipulated that prison work,academic education,medical treatment,and living guidance should be provided in a planned manner based on appropriate treatment guidelines depending on the needs of individual prisoners,and to achieve this,introduced new treatment methods such as work release,day leave,and furlough.
  The bill was submitted to the Diet session in1982,and after going through partial amendment,also submitted to the Diet session in1987and1991,but all these attempts to pass the bill failed due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives.Consequently,the amendment of the Prison Law has yet to be accomplished.