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3 Cooperation of private sectorSupport and cooperation of private sector volunteers such as volunteer visitors and chaplains play an important role in the administration of penal institutions, particularly in terms of mental support for inmates.
(1) Voluntary visits
Voluntary visits refer to the system in which private volunteer visitors provide inmates with guidance and advice that is based on their professional knowledge and experience. The content of that guidance and advice can range from the hobbies, culture, and skills of inmates right through to their mental concerns, families, employment, and future life plans.
As of December 31, 2008, there were 1,182 volunteer visitors, 447 of whom specialized in education, literature, and arts, 125 in rehabilitation services, 85 in law (legal profession), 245 in religion, commerce and industry, and social welfare, and 280 in other areas. Of 14,013 total voluntary visits made in 2008, 7,598 were with regard to hobbies and culture, etc., 3,081 with families and jobs, etc., and 1,502 with mental concerns, etc. (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).
(2) Religious instruction
Religious instruction refers to religious lectures, religious rites, and reading of sutras, etc. that can be provided by chaplains (private religious volunteers) at the request of inmates. Religious instruction aims to indirectly support inmates in fulfilling the purpose of their imprisonment by providing them with spiritual relief and mental stability, while also ensuring their individual religious freedom.
As of December 31, 2008, there were 1,624 chaplains who had provided 9,853 group instructions and 8,514 individual instructions in 2008 (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).