Section 2 Provision of Information on Serious Offenders, etc. to the Police

The Ministry of Justice provides information on inmates that committed certain offenses such as serious ones to the National Police Agency as part of a cooperative effort in ensuring that the police can prevent such offenses from occurring and rapidly respond when an offense has been committed.

Since June, 2005, the wardens of penal institutions have been notifying the National Police Agency of the scheduled date of release, date of admission, and planned residence, etc. of any inmates that committed forcible indecency, rape, abduction or kidnapping for the purpose of performing an obscene act, and rape at the scene of a robbery against victims younger than 13, typically one month prior to their scheduled date of release. As of the end of May, 2010, the total number of offenders subject to that information being provided was 758 (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

In addition, and since September, 2005, the Ministry of Justice has been notifying the National Police Agency every month of the (scheduled) date of release, date of admission, and reason for release, etc. of inmates that committed serious offenses such as homicide and robbery, etc. and those who committed burglary theft or drug offenses that are typically connected to serious offenses. As of the end of May, 2010, the total number of offenders subject to that information being provided was approximately 131,000 (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

Column: Way to Recovery of a Homicide Offender

1. X worked at a real estate company and lived with wife and a daughter but often vented his dissatisfaction with his work by drinking alcohol. He had been previously sentenced to a fine for injuring someone while completely intoxicated. He was then caught drinking alcohol while working overtime to gain overtime money and scolded by his boss V. He then fell into a frenzy and stabbed V to death with a knife he found in the kitchenette. He was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for 13 years.

2. X was still quite young at the time and hence was transferred from the detention house to an assessment center (prison) after the final judgment. He was carefully assessed for two months and judged to have the strong tendency of shifting the responsibility for his own actions to others and to be addicted to alcohol. X was then transferred to prison A. He was provided with guidance upon commencement of his sentence for two weeks when he was taught the rules of prison life, etc. In the meantime prison officials had interviewed X to identify his character, etc. and “treatment guidelines” were then formulated with consideration given to the assessment conducted at the assessment center. Correctional treatment was then commenced upon with the aim of enabling him to “understand the significance of the offense he had committed and deepen his sense of needing to apologize to his victim and the bereaved family,” “be aware of his alcohol problem,” and “think about a future life plan.”

3. After completion of the guidance provided upon commencement of his sentence X was accommodated in a shared room for six persons to lead a regular life. On weekdays he awoke at 7:00 am, marched to the factory with the other inmates after breakfast, and engaged in assembly work of mechanical parts using metal press machines, etc. until 4:30 pm. He gradually learned new skills and was then assigned to more difficult work. Five years after first being admitted he was assigned to be a group leader, and taught other inmates how to do the work, thus leading to him recognizing the difficulty of instructing others. This then led him to regretting his past in always feeling hostile toward his boss V for scolding him. In addition, the incentive remuneration increased as his level of skills improved from approximately 1,000 yen per month to approximately 10,000 yen per month by the time of his release. The inmates are given an opportunity to exercise in the recreation ground for 40 minutes every weekday by factory. Some inmates enjoyed merely chatting but X made the effort to exercise. He also played an active part in the annual athletic meeting, etc., thus providing him with a change as there was not much opportunity to have fun. He took a bath two to three times a week with the other inmates that worked at the same factory. After work they marched back to the room, had dinner, and then went to sleep at 9:00 pm.

He spent his holidays and spare time until bedtime playing Japanese chess or chatting with his roommates or reading novels for loan in the prison or magazines he bought with money sent by his family, etc. in the common room. Club activities that the inmates can participate in, including haiku and painting, etc., were held at the prison and X received instruction on calligraphy from volunteer visitors in a classroom once a month.

He had to use clothing, bedding, and other daily necessities supplied by the prison but was also allowed to use self-supplied underwear and toothbrushes, etc.

4. At prison A X expressed his desire to return to his residence after being released with his wife as the guarantor, and hence an “investigative report” stating his desire was sent to probation office B, which had jurisdiction over the region where X's residence was located three months after admission. The director of probation office B designated a volunteer probation officer to be in charge of him and determined that there would be no problem with X returning to his residence with his wife as the guarantor after taking into consideration the results of an interview the volunteer probation officer had with X's wife. The director then notified Prison A and Regional Parole Board C of that decision. The volunteer probation officer then confirmed about once every year X's wife's continued willingness to live with him and her living conditions and reported them to probation office B.

5. After the final judgment X was allowed to have up to two visits a month and to write five letters a month. He exchanged letters with his wife, father, and a brother, and met his wife who visited him from far away in a visiting room separated by a transparent sheet. However, his wife gradually grew apart from him, and then three years after his admission proposed they divorce, which he accepted. X felt depressed because of this, but the prison officials discussed it with him via interviews, which eventually enabled him to think more positively about the future.

6. Five years after his admission, and upon X becoming more mentally stable, “education from the victims' point of view” was implemented. X was provided with guidance through lectures, etc. about twice a month for a total of six months. X originally considered that victim V was also to blame because of his tyrannical behavior, but gradually recognized that he was trying to dodge his own responsibility by blaming V. His remorse then deepened and he started to participate in Buddhist meeting held by the prison every month. On the anniversary of V's death X received individual instructions from a religious instructor commissioned by the prison on praying for the comfort of the spirit of V. In addition, X's father had been paying compensation to the bereaved family of V by installments, but X also then started to send monetary offerings to the departed soul out of his incentive remuneration.

X had been expressing a wish to take part in vocational training he could make use of after being released. Six years after admission he took part in vocational training every day for a year without working at the factory, thus qualified as an automotive mechanic. He also took part in lectures on bookkeeping held by volunteer visitors, which were conducted upon request of the prison, while also studying in his spare time and thereby acquired a third degree qualification.

Furthermore, nine years after his admission he was provided with “education on problems of alcohol drinking” in preparing him for his release and X received guidance through lectures from experts, etc. once every week for three months. He regretted the awful experience of having an alcohol problem and determined to abstain from drinking.

7. One year after admission X had a fierce quarrel with some other inmates over a trifle for which he received the disciplinary punishment of disciplinary confinement for 10 days. X realized the stupidity of that and subsequently tried to act more carefully as he was aware he had a short temper and continued to have a good attitude while imprisoned. Four years after admission he was assigned to Level 2 privilege classification and was thereby allowed more visits and letters to send more often. He frequently exchanged letters with both his father and a brother. His father sent him a photograph of his daughter that X then posted up in his room which also encouraged his rehabilitation. In addition, seven years after admission he was assigned to Level 2 restriction classification that thereby allowed him to meet his father without having to be accompanied by an official and with no physical search being conducted. He therefore felt he was being trusted by the prison and determined to put even more effort into his rehabilitation.

8. Three years after admission X was divorced, as mentioned above, and thus had to change his guarantor to his father. Probation office D, which had jurisdiction over the region where X's father's residence was located, therefore commenced making environmental adjustments. The volunteer probation officer in charge visited X's father and also interviewed X's brother and his wife, who both lived with X's father, to confirm that there would be no problem with X's father being the guarantor. The volunteer probation officer subsequently confirmed X's father's willingness to accept him and the status with preparing for his life after release about twice a year, and reported them to probation office D. In addition, five years after admission probation officers of Regional Parole Board C commenced investigations for a parole examination while also interviewing X.

11 years after admission X was deemed to have maintained a good attitude while imprisoned and to be strongly motivated to be rehabilitated, and thus prison A applied for X to be paroled to Regional Parole Board C. Members of the Board examined the final criminal case records of X, etc., interviewed X several times, and listened to opinions from the bereaved family of V concerning X's parole, etc. The examination resulted in the decision to grant him parole one month after the decision, to initially accommodate X in halfway house “E-kai” due to his long period of imprisonment, and to set the special conditions for his parole including “completely abstaining from drinking alcohol” and “taking part in a violence prevention program.”

9. On the day of his parole X received a certified copy of the positive parole ruling from the warden of the prison and reported to probation office D with officials of E-kai who had arrived to accompany him there. After receiving directions on the conditions for his parole, etc. from a probation officer he returned with them to E-kai. A few days later X visited the city hall, etc. accompanied by officials of E-kai and learned how to use their administrative services, etc. He also participated in meetings on giving up drinking held at E-kai and received guidance via an “atonement guidance program” from probation officers. He visited Hello Work as part of job-seeking activities but was unable to find a job. He then consulted the volunteer probation officer and participated in employment seminars held at probation offices. Three weeks later he was employed at a factory run by a cooperative employer. One month later, with after gaining permission from the director of probation office D, he moved from E-kai to his father's residence.

Subsequent parole supervision was implemented with the aim of enabling him to live alone in accordance with the wish of X and his father after ensuring his employment and daily life situation were stable for over a year. X had been imprisoned for a long period of time and hence he had to visit his volunteer probation officer twice every month, which more often than normal, while the volunteer probation officer also visited him once every month to report on his living conditions and to provide guidance/advice. In addition, a probation officer visited X's residence a week after he moved to examine his living conditions, etc. and subsequently provided him directly with guidance on employment, abstaining from alcohol, and compensating V's bereaved family. X followed that guidance and participated in a private giving up drinking meeting introduced by the probation officer every month. While X was at E-kai he visited V's bereaved family and apologized to them with his father's assistance, although they still had severe feelings towards him. He therefore subsequently prayed to comfort the spirit of V by folding his hands before a Buddhist altar in his room every day. In addition, X received guidance based on a violence prevention program at his probation office every two weeks for a total of five times in helping him to think about concrete prevention methods such as calming himself down looking at a photograph of his daughter whenever he felt angry. The probation officer subsequently interviewed X about once every three months at the probation office or X's residence in identifying his living conditions by examining his wage slips and card verifying that he had been participating in the giving up drinking society meetings. The probation officer also placed value on X playing Japanese chess with his father and playing with his brother's children, and advised him to intentionally spend his spare time that way to ensure he would continue to abstain from drinking alcohol.

A year after being paroled his daily life had become stable and X therefore obtained permission to change his residence. X then rented an apartment near his father's residence where he started to live alone. The volunteer probation officer visited X's residence more often in keeping an eye on his living conditions and also advised his father and his brother and wife to maintain a good relationship with X. X kept thinking with deep sorrow of the bereaved family of V and prayed for the comfort of the spirit of V while working diligently and continuing to send incense money. His parole supervision then terminated on completion of the term.