2 Work

(1) Overview

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 62,494 in FY 2010. As of March 31, 2011, 85.8% 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 (woodwork, printing, tailoring, metalwork, etc.) or work that helps sustain the actual institution (cooking, cleaning, care assistance, maintenance of facilities, etc.) as general work. Inmates are assigned to a specific work category in accordance with their individual aptitude and in consideration of 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, a system implemented in cooperation with private enterprises is also in place in which inmates can commute to external work sites without having to be accompanied by officials from the penal institution to engage in work (or take part in vocational training) there onsite (outside work with commute travel).

(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 safety and the inmates’ health get protected in accordance with the Industrial Safety and Health Act, etc.

(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 2010 was approximately 4.7 billion yen (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

Incentive remuneration, however, is also paid to inmates according to the work they engaged in upon being released, in principle. The amount allocated for incentive remuneration (budget) in FY 2010 was an average of 4,533 yen per month per person (Source: The Correction Bureau, Ministry of Justice). Examining the amount of incentive remuneration paid to inmates released in 2010 revealed that 23.6% of them received more than 50,000 yen and 22.8% 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 at each Regional Correction Headquarters, while internal training is available at all penal institutions for selected eligible inmates.

Penal institutions have also been making the effort to increase the range of vocational training subjects available to match with the needs of employers. A new course in building frame construction was added in FY 2010. In the same fiscal year 87 vocational training subjects, including welding, car maintenance, information technology, and home care, and the above mentioned new course, were available, with 11,885 inmates having completed their vocational training courses and a total of 5,919 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 had employment support staff members in place at 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 inmates, etc. after their release. 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. Part of those measures include vocational counseling, job placements, and vocational lectures, etc. being implemented by public employment security office staff members at penal institutions (See (5) of Subsection 2, Section 2, Chapter 5 and (3) d. of Subsection 1, Chapter 5, Part 7 for the employment support implemented through probation offices).