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  • Juju Kurihara

Fuchu Prison, A Prison Without Punishment

I don’t know how many of you watch “Prison Break” but I think that series is one of those which represent the image of prison whe

n we think about it, tension between the inmates or inmates and warders or violence. This is probably what we picture about a prison. But after I watched this documentary, my idea has completely changed.

Fuchu Prison is located in the suburb of Tokyo, in Fuchu city. Originally it was built in the downtown of Tokyo, in Sugamo but it was moved to where it is now in 1924 as the old building had been destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in later 1923. They took this as a chance to move to the suburb as inner Tokyo was already quite over populated at that time.

There are more than 3,000 inmates are admitted in Fuchu Prison and all of them are men. Most of the inmates are who have repeated the crime many times and are considered that there is no betterments in them and foreigners who have committed a crime in Japan, such as drug trafficking. There are also mentally or physically handicapped inmates.

The main aim of this prison is to improve their behaviour to be able to adopt the social life later. In order to do this, working and studying are mandatory. Inmates have to work eight hours a day and can chose different way to learn anything they like including Japanese language for foreign inmates.

There are diverse of works, cooking, laundry, woodwork, printing, dressmaking, metalwork, leatherwork, toy making or makin

g paper bags depending on their ability and experiences.

A day is completed with little free time. And yet, there are events like sports competition, tennis tournaments, film day or shogi and igo tournaments.

This video shows the life inside of a Japanese jail from a view of foreign inmates. One of them says that the years he was in this prison wasn’t a waste of time. Is it possible that being in a jail brings something good in one’s life? Could this be the most elaborated and “successful” carceral system? Fuchu Prison proves that what inmates need is not punishments but disciplines. This applies to every animals including human beings, isn’t it?

Despite the fact that this is a prison, I felt like I was seeing my school life. Only the difference is that I would go home after the school hour. However, if someone was in a boarding school, it was probably even similar. Warders are there to keep everything in order but they always treat inmates with respect, as humans. They have never been treated violently or never lacked food. If all the prisons aimed to improve inmates’ behaviour so that they will be able to adopt themselves in the society after, it would also improve our society, wouldn’t it?

By the way, you can visit Fuchu Prison. One way is to go to the shop where the products made by the inmates are sold or to fix your car at their garage. Another way is to join their cultural festival when you can go inside the property. This is held once a year and it was in November in 2019. Check the date before you go. By typing “Fuchu Prison Cultural Festival” should give you an information.



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