2 Work

(1) General status

Inmates sentenced to imprisonment with work are legally obliged to work (with the same applying to fine defaulters in workhouses). In addition, voluntary work can also be undertaken by inmates sentenced to imprisonment without work or anyone sentenced to misdemeanor imprisonment without work upon request. The average daily number of inmates engaging in work was 60,008 in FY 2011. As of March 31, 2012, 86.0% of inmates sentenced to imprisonment without work were engaged in voluntary work (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

(2) Content of work, etc.

Inmates can take vocational training as part of their work or engage in production work (manufacturing of goods, including woodwork, printing, tailoring, metalwork, etc., and service provision) or work that helps sustain the actual institution (cooking, cleaning, care assistance, maintenance of facilities, etc.) as general work. In addition, from June 2011 work that involves making a social contribution (volunteer work without payment of wages and deemed to contribute to their reformation/rehabilitation and smooth reintegration back into society through experience of making a contribution to society) was added as another work category. Inmates are assigned to a specific work category in accordance with their individual aptitudes and their individual wishes.

Work mostly takes place within the penal institution but can also be carried out at external work sites managed by the penal institution. In addition, with cooperation from private enterprises, some inmates commute to external work sites to engage in work (or take part in vocational training) without being accompanied by officials of the penal institution (outside work with commute travel). As of the end of May 2012, 10 inmates in four institutions were engaged in outside work with commute travel. In order to expand the implementation of outside work with commute travel as well as the aforementioned day leaves and furloughs the system is now utilizing GPS devices.

(3) Work conditions

The total hours spent on correctional guidance (See next subsection), including guidance for reform and work, is, in principle, limited to a maximum of eight hours a day. No work takes place on Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, and year-end and new-year holidays, etc., apart from work that needs to be done on a daily basis such as cooking.

Work is carried out under the conditions provided in the Industrial Safety and Health Act, etc. to ensure safety and health of the inmates.

(4) Incentive remuneration, etc.

Any revenue gained from the inmates’ work belongs to the national treasury. The amount of revenue resulting from inmates working in FY 2011 was approximately 4.5 billion yen (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

Incentive remuneration, however, is paid to inmates according to the work they engaged in when they are released, in principle. The amount allocated for incentive remuneration (budget) in FY 2011 was an average of 4,723 yen per month per person (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice). Examining the amount of incentive remuneration paid to inmates released in 2011 revealed that 25.5% of them received more than 50,000 yen and 21.3% 10,000 yen or less (Source: Annual Report of Statistics on Correction).

(5) Vocational training

Vocational training is provided at penal institutions to inmates in thereby enabling them to obtain qualifications/licenses or acquire knowledge and skills that will be useful in gaining employment. There are three types of vocational training, namely general training, group training, and internal training. General training is available to eligible sentenced inmates selected from penal institutions nationwide at eight designated general training facilities (Yamagata, Fukui, Yamaguchi, and Matsuyama Prisons, and Hakodate, Kawagoe, Nara, and Saga Juvenile Prisons) whereas group training is basically available within each Regional Correction Headquarters, while internal training is available at all penal institutions for selected eligible inmates.

Penal institutions have also been making efforts to enhance the variety of vocational training subjects available to meet the needs of employers. In FY 2011, 66 vocational training subjects, including a new laundry course as well as welding, car maintenance, information processing, and home care courses, were available, with 9,989 inmates having completed vocational training courses and a total of 6,376 inmates obtaining qualifications or licenses to be welding technicians, electricians, auto mechanics, etc. (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

(6) Employment support

Since FY 2006 the Ministry of Justice has allocated employment support staff members to penal institutions and juvenile training schools and has, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, been implementing comprehensive employment support measures in securing employment for released inmates, etc. These measures center around the establishment of a system in which penal institutions, juvenile training schools, probation offices, and public employment security offices can cooperate in systematically providing employment support according to the desires and aptitudes of those subject to the support, etc. They include vocational counseling, job placements, and vocational lectures, etc. by public employment security office staff members (See (5) of Subsection 2, Section 2, Chapter 5 for the employment support implemented through probation offices).