Daily life

All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air


Exercise in open air is possible up to half an hour, on weekdays only.

The prison service offers activities to prisoners


A limited number of sentenced prisoners are allowed to attend club activities, which are usually organized by prison authorities.
According to the administration, special guidance for reform is also provided to prisoners in order to encourage them to take responsibility for their crime and to acquire the knowledge and lifestyle necessary for adapting themselves to life in society. Special guidance for reform consists of guidance for overcoming drug addiction, guidance for withdrawal from organized crime groups, reoffending prevention guidance for sex offenders, education from the victim’s viewpoints, and job assistance guidance.

There are designated places for physical activities and sports


Each prison holding sentenced inmates has a sports day once a year or so.

Prison facilities have a library


A typical daily routine involves, a morning roll call at 6.45 followed by breakfast. After breakfast, sentenced inmates change into work cloths and go from their rooms to the prison workshops. At this time a body search is conducted to confirm prisoner health and that there has been no unlawful trafficking of contraband. After entering the workshops, inmates do some brief physical exercise and are notified of their work rules for the day.
From 6 pm to 9 pm prisoners are given free time to sleep, relax, watch TV, listen to the radio, write letters etc. Talking is permitted only at prescribed times during the day (usually a brief period prior to lights out, exercise and break times). Signs in workrooms and bathrooms remind inmates that talking is forbidden while they are working, eating and bathing to maintain discipline. Talking outside of these times is punished and prisoners must request permission to use the restroom.

Read all the testimonials from people detained in Japan.

Work is compulsory


Over 90% of the Japanese prison population works, either maintaining the prison or as contract labor for private companies.

Number and percentage of prisoners who work

90 %

Variation in the number of prisoners who work


According to the administration, the prison work imposed on sentenced inmates is organized such that it enhances re-entry into society by providing not just vocational knowledge and skills, but also mental and physical health and the will to work.

A medical examination of fitness for work is carried out beforehand.

Once a prisoner’s skills have been assessed, they are assigned to a factory (ranging broadly from leather goods to toys to electrical components, etc.)

Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest


Generally, inmates work eight hours per day from 8.00am Monday to Friday with three breaks, including one for lunch.

Prisoners are paid for their work


Sentenced prisoners who are engaged in labor receive ‘incentive remuneration’ (the monthly average is less than 5000 yen, 32 euros). This remuneration is available to prisoners on release and prisoners are allowed to spend a certain amount on goods available from selected providers.
Remuneration can be reduced as punishment. If prisoners are not able to work because of disease, disorders or any other reasons (such as repeated punishment), they do not receive any remuneration.

Salaries are

significantly below the national minimum wage

Prisoners receive an incentive remuneration for the work done but the pay is very low (average monthly remuneration is less than 5000 yen, or 32 euros).

Education is provided

in some establishments

The penal institution may provide guidance in school courses of elementary school and junior high school or university.

Education is available for all prisoners


Prisoner eligibility for schooling and professional training is strictly assessed.
There are periodic study days when prisoners do not work in the factories.

Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs


Prisoners have access to a television


Usually, sentenced prisoners can watch TV for a limited period of time but cannot select the channel. Death row inmates only have a limited access to recorded programs.

Prisoners have access to a radio


A few prisons provide radio programs dedicated to prisoners. Some prisons issue literary magazines, published by the prisoners.

Prisoners have access to the press


Prisoners are allowed 15 minutes each day to read a newspaper.

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs

in most cases

The law allows for broad religious observance within prisons, as long as these activities do not interfere with prison management.
Some prisoners complain that religious activities are not allowed.

Dedicated places of worship are available

in most establishments

Usually, a prison has one or more rooms for religious purposes, usually by visiting chaplains to deliver sermons.

There are chaplains in the prisons


Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities


Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by

the prison governor

At some prisons, outside experts such as a poet or a professional storyteller, organize programs for sentenced inmates. Some outside organizations such as DARC (Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center) provide programs for sentenced inmates who have specific problems.
An increasing number of external participants are allowed inside prisons and are involved in the provision of various activities. Even so, the number of external participants is still very limited.

Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources


Financial resources are accessible

in cash

Defendants and convicted prisoners can receive cash, in Japanese yen, in police stations and prisons. Their family and friends can deposit the money directly into the facility. Assistance from a local office is sometimes required when sending money from abroad.

Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support