By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

Japanese prisons

If you are going to prison in Japan, it means that you have committed a crime and are now being sentenced to imprisonment. As of March 2018, there are 62 jails, 6 juvenile jails, and 8 branch jails in Japan, and some jails hold specific types of inmates. Fuchu Prison in Tokyo prefecture and Tochigi Prison in Tochigi prefecture are where the majority of foreign inmates are held.

Prisons in Japan may be unlike prisons in your home country. They are known to be very strict, in order to rehabilitate inmates and ensure they never commit a crime again.

Standard schedule of Japanese prisons

The image above shows an example of the daily life of an inmate in a Japanese prison. As shown, Japanese prisons follow very strict schedules down to the minute. Talking is allowed only during exercise and free time, and inmates are only allowed to speak Japanese.

Most inmates are put in community cells, which hold 6-12 inmates. The rooms are Japanese-style, which means inmates sleep on Japanese futons, and the flooring is tatami. Sometimes foreign inmates are placed separately in Western-style rooms with beds, or Japanese-style solitary cells.

Prison work includes woodworking, printing, cooking, and cleaning, as well as vocational training aimed at obtaining qualifications that can be used after being discharged from prison. Inmates are paid for this work, and this money can be collected after being discharged. During free time, inmates are allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, read books, have quiet conversations, etc. However, these must all be done in Japanese.

How can I avoid going to Japanese prison?

1. Suspension of sentence

One way of avoiding going to Japanese prison is by getting your sentence suspended.

A suspended sentence is a sentence that gives the guilty party a several year grace period until the actual execution of the sentence, and can also revoke the sentence if nothing happens during the period of suspension. You are only eligible to request a suspended sentence if the initial sentence was up to three years in prison and/or 500,000 in fines, or lighter than that. During the suspended sentence, you can live your life as usual; you’re free to job search, enroll in school, get married, or move without any restrictions.

At the end of the day, only the judge can make the final decision on whether your sentence will be suspended and you can avoid prison time. The judge will examine every individual case, and determine the possibility of rehabilitation. To better your chances of getting a suspended sentence, you will want to show that you are regretful by settling out of court with the victim and paying the damages, initiating therapy for rehabilitation, and proving that the crime was not premeditated.

Only a lawyer can help you with this, so make sure to consult with one of our criminal defense lawyers.

2. Non-prosecution

If you are not prosecuted, not only will you not go to jail, but you will also be exempt from getting a criminal record. There are many cases in which prosecution is dropped for reasons such as “no charges,” and “lack of evidence”. To avoid prosecution, first you should hire a lawyer to protect you and your rights.

Your chances of avoiding prosecution increase if you can show that you are a thoughtful and kind person who simply made a mistake, if you are young (meaning you have a higher chance of getting rehabilitated), the crime you committed is not very bad, the damage suffered by the victim is minor, etc. Chances are increased even more if you have sincerely apologized to the victim, have paid compensation to the victim, and show signs of regret and self-reflection.

This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice.

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