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Japan

Higashinoinouecho Prison - Kyoto

Japan's prison population went from 47,000 in the mid-1990's to 78,000 in 2009. Officials cited one reason for the rise was a large increase in the number of elderly being convicted of crimes, with loneliness being offered as a major factor.  Vocational and formal education are emphasized to prisoners, as is instruction in social values. Inmates are encouraged to "look inside themselves" to prevent recidivism. Most convicts engage in labor, for which a small stipend is set aside for use on release. Under a system stressing incentives, prisoners are initially assigned to community cells, then earn better quarters and additional privileges based on their good behavior. In 2003, based on claims by Amnesty International of inhumane treatment, Japan's Justice Ministry formed a special team to investigate 1,566 prisoner deaths from 1993 to 2002. A preliminary report suggested that nearly one—third of the cases involved suspicious circumstances. However, in June 2004, the Ministry announced that there was evidence of abuse in only two fatalities, and approximately 10 deaths could be attributed to poor medical care, and documentation was lost on nine others. The remaining deaths were re-categorized as "not suspicious." In the wake of prison abuses, the "Law Concerning Penal Institutions and the Treatment of Sentenced Inmates" came into effect in 2007, to reform the treatment of prisoners, however, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) expressed concerns in 2010 about continued issues, including the use of unlimited solitary confinement, and lack of adequate medical care.