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3. Cooperation between government and private sector
(1) Volunteer probation officers
The Japanese probation/parole supervision is operated through the cooperation between1,000probation officers and50,000volunteer probation officers.Without the help of volunteers,it would be impossible to supervise about70,000parolees/probationers,including juveniles,newly placed under supervision every year.In comparison,the United Kingdom(England and Wales),which does not have volunteer probation officers,has about8,000probation officers(Source:Probation Statistics England and Wales2002)despite the fact that its population is less than half of Japan.
Volunteer probation officers in Japan are often said to be"worthy of being proud of in the world."It is probably because a large number of volunteers,without any monetary compensation,work with enthusiasm and conscience for the rehabilitation and improvement of offenders.As described in this chapter,they strive to reach out to offenders in order to establish trust with them despite various difficulties,and their selfless efforts are yielding results.In sum,volunteer probation officers are an important social resource in Japan,indispensable for the reintegration of offenders into society.
To maintain the system of volunteer probation officers for many years to come,it is necessary to find suitable persons with diverse backgrounds who have energy,flexibility,and problem-solving ability and to appoint them as volunteer probation officers.In recent years,however,appointment of appropriate volunteer probation officers has been difficult as a result of social changes such as a shrinking family size,falling birthrate and a weakening sense of community due to changes in communities.The special survey on volunteer probation officers revealed that while910(40.3%)out of2,260respondents have asked others to become volunteer probation officers,685(75.3%)of them had their requests turned down.It indicates the difficulty faced by incumbent volunteer probation officers in appointing new officers.
Against this backdrop,the Ministry of Justice has prepared brochures on the activities of volunteer probation officers and distributed them to local self-governing and other bodies to ask them to cooperate in recruiting volunteer probation officers.Probation offices and volunteer probation officers associations together have been conducting cross-sectoral searches for volunteer probation officer candidates.As a result,their number was49,238,with93.8%of vacancies being filled,as of April1,2004.However,the recruitment of volunteer probation officers is still a pressing issue,since about 10% of incumbent officers will retire within a year under the retirement system.In the special survey on volunteer probation officers,some officers commented that they hesitated to ask others to become volunteer probation officers because they would have to pay from their own pockets the expenses for their activities as volunteer probation officers.It is,therefore,important to take other measure s to recruit new volunteer probation officers,including review of their working conditions.
(2) Cooperative employers in offenders'rehabilitation
Cooperative employers in offenders'rehabilitation are those employers who knowingly employ probationers/parolees.They play a very important role especially in today's severe employment situation because it is essential for ex-offenders to stabilize their lives through employment.
To seek cooperative employers,probation offices and volunteer probation officers associations have engaged in public information activities.As a result,their number has steadily increased as shown in Fig. 5-5-4-2 .On the other hand,the employed parolees/probationers at cooperative employers have not been always large in number.To create more jobs for parolees/probationers,it is needed to request further cooperation from existing cooperative employers and to seek new employers.
Fig. 5-5-4-2 Number of cooperative employers in offenders'rehabilitation(as of April1in1986-2004)