Date of the report

Safeguards

A copy of the internal regulations is made available to the prisoners

yes

Prisoners are notified of internal rules and the administration ensures a booklet in each cell.

Access to a lawyer is ensured

yes

Prisoners can write to their lawyers but these letters are read by authorities and subject to censoring. Prison wardens usually monitor meetings with lawyers also.

Number of deaths in custody

298

i
2014

Number of deaths attributed to suicide

-

Each institution announces inmate deaths and (possible) causes of these deaths, but official statistics do not include a breakdown of causes.

Number of cases of torture and ill-treatment registered during the year

-

There are many prisoner complaints about ill treatment in detention, but official statistics reveal only those formally filed by inmates. The vast majority of these complaints are dismissed. There is a view that many inmates may fear further violence if they complain.

The prohibition of torture is enshrined in the Constitution and the legislation

yes

The prohibition of torture is enshrined in article 36 of the Constitution.
Articles 195 and 196 of the Criminal Code set out the penalties for such offences.

The country has ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT)

yes, in 1999

Detained persons have the possibility to lodge a complaint about their conditions of detention against the prison administration.

Japanese law provides three ways for convicted prisoners to raise concerns about treatment within the prison:

  • A procedure called ‘claim for review’ (shinsa no shinsei), in which complaints are directed to the superintendent of the regional correction headquarters about the implementation of prison rules (for example, punishment or refusal of medical treatment) within 30 days of any incident.

  • A procedure called ‘report of cases’ (jijitsu o shinkoku) by which you can complain to the superintendent of the regional correction headquarters if you are assaulted or unreasonably restrained within 30 days of any incident.

  • The third way to raise concerns is to make a complaint (kujo no shinshutsu) to either the warden of the institution, to an inspector conducting an on-the-spot inspection, or to the Minister of Justice.

If a prisoner is dissatisfied with the outcome of either of these procedures, they can appeal to the Minister of Justice.
The relevant form should be asked to a prison officer to raise concerns in one of these ways. While authorities permit prisoners and detainees to submit complaints without censorship and to request investigation of poor conditions, they are usually responded to with little detail beyond a final determination.

The country has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)

no

However, the government has so far been reluctant to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UNCAT (OPCAT), which requires the creation of an independent National Preventive Mechanism.

A NPM has been created

no

The law provides for a sentence adjustment system

yes

Penalty adjustments can be made during ongoing sentences

yes

There is no clear and substantive criterion for parole disclosed to prisoners. The level of parole granted by prison officers is very restricted.

Some categories of prisoners are not eligible for sentence adjustment

yes

Under a 1998 administrative order, persons sentenced to life imprisonment are not eligible for parole.

The law provides for a temporary release system

yes

Commuting to the outside world, day leave and furloughs are sometimes allowed in order to encourage reform and rehabilitation and re entry into society.