Previous     Next            Index     Image Index     Year Selection
 White paper on crime 2004 Part5/Chapter6 

Chapter6 Conclusion

  1. In this part,we have overviewed changes in the numbers and the characteristics of prisoners,parolees,and probationers,changes in various treatment measures,and changes in operation of the systems etc.during the period from1973,the year that represents a safer period,to the higher-crime society of today.We have also examined the present situation and challenges of adult correction.We then examined current efforts in both correction and rehabilitation services.Now as conclusion,we comparatively analyze past and present then consider afresh challenges for the treatment of offenders.
  2. The White Paper on Crime of1977,sub-titled"Japanese Crime and Criminal Policy from International Perspectives"compared trends of crimes in Japan with those in the United States,England,France and the former West Germany.Then it reasoned that the factors contributing to Japanese low occurrence rate of major crimes are:"Japanese homogenous culture,less social disparity,high level of education in general,relatively stable economic and family lives,traditional Japanese characteristics as an informal social control to prevent crime,and efficient criminal justice practice as formal crime control."Other than these(1) cultural and social homogeneity,(2) high level of education,(3) economic stability,and it also added(4) strong family ties and sense of social solidarity,(5) sense of haji(shame)and group-oriented eastern ethics and(6) law-abiding sense in general and cooperative attitude toward inves tigative organizations elements of the"informal social control."
  3. Looking at the present situation from these factors,Japanese society has changed significantly over the last thirty years and has lost a great deal of these crime deterrence functions.
  People's values and lifestyles have diverged.The recent increase of crimes by foreigners also indicates that Japanese society no longer holds the same uniformity as it did before.
  As for economic situation,the effect of the prolonged recession is still evident in statistical data,such as the unemployment rate among newly admitted prisoners,parolees,and probationers.
  Furthermore,the average number of persons within a household declined from3.41persons in1970to2.67in2000(Source:National Census,Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications).The divorce rate(number of divorced couples per1,000persons)increased from1.04in1973to2.25in2003(Source:Population Survey Report,Ministry of Health,Labour and Welfare).The divorce rate of2.25is not as high as in the United States but is close to that of England and Germany.Family ties cannot be evaluated only by mere size of household or the divorce rate,but the changes in statistics may imply weaken family ties.
  In addition,people,especially in urban areas,became less inclined to be involved with other people.Together with changes in values and lifestyles,social solidarity also seems to be weakening.This may relate to less willingness among people to cooperate with investigation of crimes.Statistical data too show increased difficulty to obtain cooperation for investigation.For example,there is a decrease in the number and percentage of those cases of which the suspect was identified mainly by police officers'interviews of witnesses(Source:White Paper on Police2002).
  4. The primary functions of criminal justice agencies to retain safer society are to arrest offenders accurately and impose appropriate penalties upon them.However,as the crime deterring functions of society,as mentioned above,has weakened,treatment of offenders has more gained importance.Especially,since it is difficult to recover once-weakened social bonds or family ties,treatment will have to play more positive role to supplement these social control measures to deter ones from re-offending..
  If we dare to coin a slogan,it would be" treatment of offenders in order to restore security,"though this is not a new idea.Preventing repeated offenses through offenders'correction and social reintegration to maintain social peace have been a consistent goal of Japan's correction and rehabilitation services.However,still it is important to renew the recognition that treatment of offenders is critical to maintain security.
  5. To restore security through treatment of offenders,further efforts are required for correctional service to promote correctional program that fits each offender's problems,for rehabilitation service to enhance effective supervisions and for two services to develop better coordination.In this aspect,it would be worth while to innovate flexibly with the ways to deal with offenders,such as enhancing educational programs for stimulant drug abusers at correctional institutions along with adopting urine tests after parole and follow up on the offender's self-efforts to stop drug abuse.
  In addition,to reflect the recommendation by the Council on Prison Administration Reform,it is also necessary to continue striving for an early realization of overall revisions of the Prison Law.Japanese prison administration has tried to improve the quality of offenders'rehabilitation and social reintegration with an accumulation of lower-level regulations.However,the Prison Law prescribes neither rights and obligations of inmates nor the authority of prison staff in the course of their duties.Simply,the law has become inconsistent with the international standard for correctional administration.The lack of statutory ground often prohibited more progressive treatment.It is unfortunate that these problems of the Prison Law have hindered diversification of treatment when treatment of offenders is strongly expected to be effective to restore security.
  6. Another important challenge is treatment of offenders open to the public.The recommendation by the Council on Prison Administration Reform pointed out that in order for prison management to truly achieve the level that really contributes to correct offenders'behavior and help them to reintegrate into society,correctional institutions should not be isolated from rest of the world.For that,correctional institutions need to disclose their information to the public as much as possible to acquire understanding and to ensure prison administrations fully reflects the norms of society.At present,the correction services are starting to apply the"Private Finance Initiative,"which means to outsource part of design,construction and management of prison facilities to the private sector.The aim of this initiative are to achieve the ideal of prison reform of"Prisons with Public Understanding and Support,"by developing more efficient and effective security infrastructures,improving transparency of prison management with the involvement of private sectors and striving to coexist with the community.
  Winning the understanding of the people and their support is also important for rehabilitation services.Rather,it is crucial for rehabilitation services to gain public understanding and support in the community in order to obtain desired effects of treatment because their treatment is provided within the community through volunteer probation officers and halfway houses.
  This year's special article aims to offer useful information as a way to gain public understanding by illustrating the present situation and trends of adult correction system as comprehensibly as possible from the criminal justice policy perspective.For that purpose,we offered various information that are generally not disclosed to the public;accommodation capacities and number of prisoners in each institution,installation of double bunk beds,re-imprisonment rate of released stimulant drug offenders,parole rate by type of offense and the difference in proportion of parolees'served imprisonment term before parole release by their sentenced terms and by their previous imprisonment experience.
  We hope,in midst of urgency to regenerate social order,that the issue of treatment of offenders attracts people's interest as an immediate problem and invites more people to positively cooperate and participate in the field of rehabilitation services.
  7. Finally,we would like to point out the needs for appropriate infrastructures for more positive and effective treatment.
  At present,Japanese correctional institutions are severely overcrowded.Of course,it is most desirable to be equipped with enough facilities to meet increasing prison population but simultaneously,we also need to develop human infrastructure.Regardless of the advancements of science,the basis of offender treatment would depend on relationships between human beings.In order to promote treatment programs that appropriately fit offender-specific characteristics and to enhance guidance throughout programs,it is essential to have sufficient and capable prison officers and diverse professional staff along with continual efforts to streamline and outsource operations.
  Rehabilitation services also need to develop human resources.Japan possesses valuable social resources in the form of nearly50,000volunteer probation officers,who support offenders to rehabilitate themselves and to be reintegrated into society.However,many of them are scheduled to retire due to the fixed retirement age system.Thus,it is mandated to seek rejuvenation by recruiting active volunteers with flexibility and guiding capability from a wide range of people.Hereinafter,necessary measures should be considered and placed into effect for that purpose.Furthermore,by promoting the turnover of volunteer probation officers,it will also be required to facilitate better coordination between volunteer and professional probation officers by providing a sufficient number of professional probation officers for proper guidance and consultations for newly-appointed volunteer probation officers.
  Treatment of offenders for their correction and reintegration into society is an important measure to create a safe and comfortable society to live in and is important for the public to realize that the necessary costs will eventually return to the public as benefit.
  8. There has been continuous analysis from a wide range of perspectives and various efforts for Japan to restore its reputation as the safest country in the world.We believe that if three factors that we mentioned;treatment of offenders that benefits the restoration of security,treatment of offenders open to the public and appropriate infrastructures for more positive and effective treatment are organically combined with various measures taken in other sectors of the society,it would be a strong driving force for Japan to reach that goal.