2016: Prison Law Reform in Japan

Japan: Todesstrafe - Prison

Source:  Asia-Pacific-Journal / Japan Focus, Volume 14 | Issue 5 | Number 5 | Marczh 1, 2016
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus.

Prison Law Reform in Japan:
How the Bureaucracy was Held to Account Over the Nagoya Prison Scandal

Silvia Croydon

Japan's prison system is renowned for its safety and order. There has not been a prison riot there in decades, and figures about escapes from and assaults at its penal facilities are far lower than in other developed nations. Such features have not gone unnoticed; foreign policy makers increasingly look to Japan for lessons in how to improve their own prisons. Whilst various aspects of the Japanese prison system have been investigated by legal experts, government agencies and human rights organizations, however, a gap remains with respect to how Japanese prison policies are formulated. This article provides a study of the decision-making process, focusing on the political events triggered by a sequence of inmate injuries and fatalities in Nagoya Prison following the turn of the century, which culminated in the 2005/6 reform of the 1908 Prison Law. Whilst this study reveals the scope of the discretion that the Ministry of Justice enjoys over prison management, it also shows the capability of the legislature to hold the former to account when called to do so, and the potential for civil society to impact policy-making in Japan.1

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