Re-offending and reintegration in Japan

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Re-offending and reintegration

in Japan

Name: Patrick Gerritsen

Student number: 1729780

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Contents

Introduction ... 3

Research questions ... 4

Literature review ... 4

Methodology ... 7

Rates of re-offending ... 9

Re-offending and the legal changes ... 11

“Medical treatment and supervision act” ... 11

“Offender reintegration law” ... 12

Reintegration ... 12

Assistance while still in prison ... 13

General improvement ... 13

Preparations for work... 13

Special improvement ... 13

Assistance while out of prison ... 14

Customized assistance... 14

Finding a place to live ... 15

Finding employment... 16

Getting the public to understand ... 18

PPO and VPO ... 18

Optional assistance based on volunteers from the community ... 19

Labelling and the public ... 20

The public and reintegration ... 20

Labelling ... 22

Conclusion ... 24

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Introduction

Re-offending and reintegration are very closely linked to each other. If reintegration into society after having served a prison sentence is not successful, then the risk of re-offending

increases. By looking at the White Papers on Crime, papers released by the government on a yearly basis to provide details about crime in the country, it becomes clear that re-offending is an important topic1. Although much time and effort has been put into the research of re-offending and its

improvement, the latest edition of the White Papers on Crime show a percentual increase in the rate of re-offenders even though the general amount of crime seems to be decreasing2. A decrease in crime combined with an increase in re-offenders might point to the re-offenders continuing their “way of life”, while the single-offenders might be decreasing. There is a possibility that this could explain the so-called increase in re-offending, while it might just be a decrease in the amount of general single-offenders. However, research into the topic is scarce and thus the current paper will attempt to clarify this by looking at the state of re-offending.

Reintegration itself is an important part of going back into the society and attempting to live a normal life again. This is, however, much more difficult than it sounds, and it becomes even more difficult when social cohesion seems to be decreasing3. To combat this, the Japanese government released a new law in 2007, called the ‘Offender reintegration law’4. In addition to the regular re-offenders, there is also the problem of those people with mental health problems. To allow these people to reintegrate into society in a more efficient way, the ‘Medical treatment and supervision act’ was established in 20055.

The current research will look at what happens to a person who is released from prison, as well as the programmes and possibilities available for these people. As social bonds seem to be a re-occurring theme within reintegration, one part of the current research will be devoted to the public opinion about reintegration, as this could potentially seriously disrupt the process. When a person is stigmatized, it is possible that the public looks at that person in a certain way. This way, someone may be given a ‘label’, which is part of the Labelling theory by Becker6. After being given a label, a

1Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho).”

2Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2017 (heisei 29 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Regional networks supporting reintegration (kousei wo shien suru chiiki no nettowaaku).”

3Akashi, “The Role of Volunteer Probation Officers in Japan - Recent Challenges and Responses.” 4 E-gov, “Offender reintegration law (kousei hogohou).”

5Ando et al., “Risk Factors for Problematic Behaviors among Forensic Outpatients under the Medical Treatment and Supervision Act in Japan.”

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person may be treated differently, and may eventually start behaving as he is treated, thus leading to what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Summarizing, problems connected to reintegrating back into society after having served a prison sentence is not an easy process and it may in fact cause a lot of problems. It is thus very important, even necessary, to come to understand this problem on a deeper level. If successful, many lives could be improved in this manner, and this does not merely denote the lives of those who are attempting to reintegrate. If the reintegration process could be made more successful, the rate of crime could be decreased quite effectively. The current research is thus important for both the scientific understanding of the underlying problem, as well as to improve the social consequences.

Research questions

In order to find answers to the problems posed in the introduction, the current research will attempt to answer the following research questions, the details of which will be discussed in the methodology section.

1. How successful is reintegration from prison back into the society in Japan?

2. How are those released from prison supported and what options are available for them? 3. What is the public opinion about those attempting to reintegrate and its possible influence?

Literature review

According to Hamai and Ellis7, 30 percent of the offenders are repeat offenders, but at the same time these offenders are responsible for more than 60 percent of the total amount of crime committed. Although these numbers may seem a bit extreme at first, it is actually a trend often seen in crime8. This means that re-offending is a large problem and that it is important to understand this. As stated earlier, the White Papers on Crime show that a percentual increase in re-offenders can be observed in Japan9. Research repeatedly shows that social bonds play an important role in

reintegration, and that the absence of these bonds may lead to an increased risk of re-offending10. However, at the same time, a decrease in social cohesion in Japan has also been reported11. On top of this, research has shown that the social bonds prisoners had before incarceration have decreased

7Hamai and Ellis, “Crime and Punishment in Japan.”

8 Hagan, Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior. 9Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho).”

10Enache et al., “Aspects Regarding the Hope for Successful Reintegration of Female Detainees”; Visher and O’Connell, “Incarceration and Inmates’ Self Perceptions about Returning Home”; Yokotani and Tamura, “The

Effect of a Social Reintegration (Parole) Program on Drug-Related Prison Inmates in Japan: A 4-Year Prospective

Study.”

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by more than 60 percent by the time they get released12. In order to deal with the problem more effectively, the Japanese government released a new law in 2007, the ‘Offender reintegration law’13. This law was supposed to make the public more aware of the importance of social acceptance, as well as the role the public could play in the improvement of reintegration14. The purpose of the law becomes clear from article 1 of the new law, the rough translation of which states:

Article 1: The purpose of this Act is, with respect to persons who have committed crimes and juvenile delinquents, to prevent them from re-offending or eliminate their delinquencies and assist them to become self-reliant as sound members of society and improve and rehabilitate themselves by treating them properly within society, and to ensure the suitable operation of pardons and promote crime prevention activities, etc., thereby protecting society and enhancing the welfare of individuals and the public15.

The purpose of the law is meant to be achieved by four main improvements, as mentioned within the law. The first and second are to create both national and regional boards, meant to improve the evaluation of those detainees wanting to reintegrate. The third point denotes the increase of parole offices, for the purpose of enlightening the public, crime prevention, promoting activities of the local residents and making an effort for improvement of the social environment16. The fourth and final point denotes probation officers, both the professional as well as the voluntary ones. The law states that the Voluntary Probation Officers (VPO) should supplement the work not covered sufficiently by the Professional Probation Officers (PPO). Social acceptance is mentioned throughout the law as one of the main goals, which shows that the importance of social acceptance and awareness has been recognized by the government17. Whether this is related to the law or not is unclear, but literature in the years after the law had been implemented to paint a more positive picture about offender reintegration shows that the Japanese people seem more open to other forms of justice18. It has been written that the people are at least open to a form of restorative justice, in which the emphasis is placed on the reintegration of former convicts. Huang et al. and Sakiyama et al. both show that the public is open to this form of justice, but still want to see the perpetrator get punished19. This is in

12Volker et al., “Changes in the Social Networks of Prisoners: A Comparison of Their Networks before and after Imprisonment.”

13 E-gov, “Offender reintegration law (kousei hogo hou).” 14 E-gov.

15 E-gov. 16 E-gov. 17 E-gov.

18Huang et al., “Social Capital, Rehabilitation, Tradition: Support for Restorative Justice in Japan and Australia”;

Sakiyama, Lu, and Liang, “Reintegrative Shaming and Juvenile Delinquency in Japan.”

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contrast to articles released before the law. For example, Hamai and Ellis note that a shift is occurring, moving from restorative justice to retributive justice, where the emphasis is on

punishment instead of treatment and reintegration20. This increase of interest in restorative justice may be important in making the public aware of the important role they play in the reintegration process. Minoura and Akashi both point out that the PPOs and VPOs play an important role in the reintegration process21. They write that the VPOs can play an important role in connecting the former inmates with the public as they are known within the community. In addition to this

usefulness, the amount of VPOs, approximately 48000, greatly outnumber the PPOs, approximately 100022.

Besides the ‘regular’ offenders and re-offenders, there are those with mental problems, which causes them an increased level of difficulty when attempting to reintegrate. The ‘Medical treatment and supervision act’ established in 2005 was an attempt to improve the reintegration of those former inmates into society23. The act was meant to support those offenders who committed a serious crime in a state of insanity or diminished responsibility24. This means a person who is deemed as having been in a state of insanity or diminished responsibility can be subjected to intense

psychiatric assistance and treatment, with the goal of reintegrating back into the society25. Although literature denotes that improvement can be observed in this field, it is also denoted that much is still to be done26. Fujii et al. have thus observed some improvement, but the amount of authors who agree that the system still has quite a bit of flaws are more than just a few27. A problem continuously reoccurring seems to be financial. The sheer amount of people who are in need of help can simply not be processed by the limited apparatus set up at the moment. In order to resolve this, more attention is necessary, and more research should be conducted. Amagai et al. and Suzuki et al. both seem to agree that there are some important factors which could greatly influence the

20Hamai and Ellis, “Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern Japan: From Re-Integrative Shaming to Popular Punitivism.”

21Akashi, “The Role of Volunteer Probation Officers in Japan - Recent Challenges and Responses”; Minoura, “Offender Rehabilitation Reform in Japan: Effective Cooperation between Professional and Volunteer

Probation Officers.”

22Akashi, “The Role of Volunteer Probation Officers in Japan - Recent Challenges and Responses.” 23Ando et al., “Risk Factors for Problematic Behaviors among Forensic Outpatients under the Medical Treatment and Supervision Act in Japan.”

24Ministry of health, labour and welfare, “Medical Treatment and Supervision Act (Shinshin Soushitsusha Tou Iryou Kansatsu Hou)”; Nakatani et al., “New Legislation for Offenders with Mental Disorders in Japan.” 25Nakatani et al., “New Legislation for Offenders with Mental Disorders in Japan.”

26Fujii et al., “Development of Forensic Mental Health Services in Japan.”

27Nakatani, “Challenges in Interfacing between Forensic and General Mental Health: A Japanese Perspective”; Ando et al., “Risk Factors for Problematic Behaviors among Forensic Outpatients under the Medical Treatment

and Supervision Act in Japan”; Weisstub and Carney, “Forensic Mental Health Law Reform in Japan: From Criminal Warehousing to Broad-Spectrum Specialist Services?”; Fujii et al., “Development of Forensic Mental

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successfulness of the reintegration of people with mental problems28. A main factor which comes forth from both of the articles is the importance of having work, as this is significantly correlated to an increase of self-efficacy for social participation. In turn, this could potentially increase the chances of creating social ties and bonds, which could lower any risk of re-offending. Another problem can be found within the conditions for the application of the ‘Medical treatment and supervision act’. As the act only applies to those crimes deemed as “serious”, less serious crimes committed in a state of insanity or diminished responsibility will not be assisted, thus leading to a limited effect. Additionally, “vague language” has been used within the act, according to Nakatani et al., leading to unclear treatment order criteria29. However, as mentioned before, some improvements and possible

improvements have been identified, as well. An example of this is mentioned in the study by Ando et al, which identifies more characteristics and states that through this process the act can be

improved30. However, recent research also remains wary and states that more research in to the efficacy is necessary31.

The current research will attempt to add to the already existing literature in several ways. First of all, it will determine in what way the problem of re-offending, and hereby the failure of reintegration, has developed. This will help understand the problem, as well as the efficacy of the counter-measures. Secondly, the current research will shed light on the possibility of programmes and other forms of help for those attempting to reintegrate. It is not always clear what forms of help are available, nor how these work or how to get it. The current paper will attempt to increase the understanding by mapping out possibilities and options, while also coming to understand what these options mean for those attempting to reintegrate. Finally, a part concerning the opinion of the public will be added, as a certain level of acceptance is necessary for someone to be able to return to society. By doing the above, the current paper will add to the understanding of the problem, which in turn will help in finding a possible solution or improvement.

Methodology

The methodology which will be used in the current research will consist of several parts, in consistency with the previously introduced research questions.

28Amagai et al., “A Comparative Study of Self-Efficacy for Social Participation of People with Mental Illness in Japan and China”; Suzuki et al., “Factors Related to Self-Efficacy for Social Participation of People with Mental

Illness.”

29Nakatani et al., “New Legislation for Offenders with Mental Disorders in Japan.”

30 Ando et al., “Risk Factors for Problematic Behaviors among Forensic Outpatients under the Medical Treatment and Supervision Act in Japan.”

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First, the current research will attempt to find out whether re-offending really has increased. By using data originating from the White Papers on Crime, analyses will be made in order to find out whether the percentual increase in re-offending goes parallel with an actual increase, or whether this increase is merely the result of the general level of crime going down. In this part, the 2005 and 2007 laws will also be included, to see whether a statistical difference can be observed during or after these periods. Although it is nearly impossible to conclude the effect with certainty, it may still be useful in recognizing possible effects. 2. Reintegration

Much like the former point, the White Papers on Crime will be used to look at the processes and programmes available for reintegration. Reintegration is a topic which has been part of the special section of the White Papers on Crime seven times in the past ten years32. The importance of this topic has thus been acknowledged, but there is still a lot to gain in this area, which is why the data will be analysed to deepen the understanding of the topic. Additionally, data released by the Rehabilitation Bureau and the Probation Bureau will be used to further increase the diversity of the sources33. The main aim of the current research is to find out more about the regular inmates, those without acknowledged mental

problems. Those with acknowledged mental problems were not included in the current research as no details of their treatments and specific programmes could be found. Thus the current research will limit its focus on the regular inmates without acknowledged mental problems.

3. Public opinion

Finally, the current research will analyse studies conducted by the Japanese government34. These studies were conducted in several different ways and were meant to measure the

32Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2017 (heisei 29 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Regional networks

supporting reintegration (kousei wo shien suru chiiki no nettowaaku)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on

crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of re-offending and its countermeasures

(saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2015 (heisei 27 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Sexual crimes and the prevention of re-offending (seihanzaisha no jittai to saihan boushi)”;

Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2014 (heisei 26 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Thiefs and re-offending (settou jihansha to saihan)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2012 (heisei 24 nenban hanzai

hakusho) - About the people released from prison and support to return to society (keimusho shusshousha

nado to shakai fukki shien)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2011 (heisei 23 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Crimes of the youth and prevention of re-offending (shounen/jakunen hanzaisha no jittai to saihan

boushi)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2009 (heisei 21 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The improvement of the prevention of re-offending policy (saihan boushi shisaku no juujitsu).”

33Ministry of Justice, “Rehabilitation Bureau (hogokyoku)”; Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho).”

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public opinion about reintegration. These will be used to clarify what the opinion of the public about re-offending and reintegration is, as well as attempt to clarify why

understanding this might just be the most important part of the reintegration process.

Rates of re-offending

For years, Japan has been regarded as a country with very low rates of crime, even among the industrialized world35. Although there have been upsurges in the past, the White Papers on Crime show that the crime rates reached a point lower than they had in more than 60 years36. However, despite the decrease in crime rates, there has been a relatively steady increase of the percentual re-offending rate37. This is alarming considering the large amount of crime that is usually committed by re-offenders38. However, when the decrease in crime and the increase of re-offending are considered together, there is a possibility that the percentual increase of re-offending might not be reflective of an absolute increase. Instead, there is a possibility that the percentual increase is merely the effect of the decrease of the amount of first-time offenders. What possible interpretations and changes this brings will be discussed at the end of this section.

Graph 1: Percentage of re-offenders and first-time offenders in Japan between the years 2000 and 2017.

office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Reintegration Projects (Kousei Hogo Jigyou Ni Kan Suru

Seron Chousa)”; Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Counter-Measures Meant to Prevent Re-Offending (Saihan Boushi Taisaku Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

35Herber, “Crime Prevention Volunteering in Japan: Japanese Citizens’ Contribution to Low Crime Rates.” 36 Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho).”

37 Ministry of Justice.

38 Hagan, Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior; Hamai and Ellis, “Crime and Punishment in Japan.”

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The graphs introduced in this section are based on data collected from the White Papers on Crime39. The most recent data available of that from the year 2017. Considering the data in the graphs will also be used as a reference material for the legal changes of 2005 and 2007 and its effects, the graphs will start at the year 2000. This way, if any patterns should emerge from the data, they can be compared to the years before the implementation of the legal changes.

First of all will be to check whether or not the amount of re-offenders in Japan has been increasing in the past few years. Graph 1 shows the amount of re-offenders and first-time offenders in percentages, with the data ranging from the year 2000 to the year 2017. Based on this graph, it could be concluded that the amount of first-time offenders is decreasing. This would fit with the trend of decreasing crime rates in Japan introduced earlier in this section. At the same time, one might say that a percentual increase in the amount of re-offenders can also be observed. And although this is a valid observation, it is incapable of showing the actual state of re-offending in Japan. Thus, the only solid and logical conclusion Graph 1 provides is that re-offenders are

responsible for an increasing portion of the total amount of crime, specifically 48.7 percent in 2017. Graph 2 shows the absolute amount of offenders during the years, distinguishing between re-offenders and first-time offenders. First of all, Graph 2 confirms the decrease of first-time

offenders, which is in accordance with the data in Graph 1, as well as the trend of decreasing crime in Japan. However, most striking is to see that the amount of re-offenders has also been decreasing for years. This leads to the conclusion that the percentual increase that has been seen in Graph 1 is the result of a decrease in first-time offenders which has been developing at a much faster pace. In turn, this leads to the conclusion that not only the general crime rates are decreasing in Japan, but the amount of first-time offenders is decreasing at a fast pace, as well. Although Graph 2 shows that the amount of re-offenders has also been decreasing, it also shows that there has been quite a difference in pace between the decrease of re-offenders and first-time offenders. This leads to the question as to why there is such a disparity between these two types of offenders. If the trend shown in Graph 2 proceeds as it has been in the last ten years, then the amount of offenders categorized as “re -offender”will become larger than the amount of offenders categorized as “first-time offender”. This is because the group of first-time offenders has been decreasing at a faster rate than the group of re-offenders, despite the fact that this difference has been decreasing throughout the years.

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Graph 2: Amount of re-offenders and first-time offenders in absolute numbers in Japan between the years 2000 and 2017.

Based on the data originating from the White Papers on Crime, it can be concluded that the decrease in the amount of first-time offenders has been much more serious than the decrease of the re-offenders. This has important implications for research, both academic and social, as it points to lower efficacy of counter-measures used to battle re-offending compared to deterring first-time offenders. This means that even though the anticipated increase did not turn out to be an increase, the limited decrease in re-offenders is still troublesome.

Re-offending and the legal changes

Based on the data posed in the previous section, this section will use the dates of

implementation of the legal changes mentioned in the introduction. A short introduction of both of the laws will be provided, as well as whether or not the laws could have caused any effects within the short time period available right now. The current section is meant to shed light on the possibility of any short-term effects the laws may have set in motion. Examining either of these laws in depth is beyond the scope of the current research and will thus not be done, but instead references to the laws may be made.

“Medical treatment and supervision act”

The “Medical treatment and supervision act” was implemented in 2005 and was meant to support those offenders who committed a serious crime in a state of insanity or diminished responsibility40. This means a person who is deemed as having been in a state of insanity or

40 Ministry of health, labour and welfare, “Medical Treatment and Supervision Act (Shinshin Soushitsusha Tou Iryou Kansatsu Hou)”; Nakatani et al., “New Legislation for Offenders with Mental Disorders in Japan.”

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diminished responsibility can be subjected to intense psychiatric assistance and treatment, with the goal of reintegrating back into the society41.

It is unclear how the new act has affected re-offenders and/or rates of re-offending.

According to the literature, the number of re-offenders has decreased since 2006. However, it is not necessarily entirely reducible to the act. In accordance with the literature, it seems far more likely that 2006 would have been too early to see any real changes from the act.

“Offender reintegration law”

The “Offender reintegration law” was implemented in 2007 and was meant to raise public

awareness and social acceptance in order to increase the efficacy of reintegration42. Graph 2 shows that there has been a small decrease of re-offenders, but this decrease started in 2006. It is thus very unlikely that the implementation of the law started the decrease in the amount of re-offenders. Despite this, it may just be possible that the implementation enabled the continuation of the decrease, although further research will be necessary for this. This possibility will thus be further examined in the next section.

Reintegration

This section will aim to clarify the process of reintegration in Japan. It will aim to clarify how those meant to reintegrate are treated and what help is available for them. The data presented in this section is based on the White Papers on Crime, beginning with the issue of 2007, “The current state of and countermeasures against re-offending.”43. Most of the other data has been taken from the White Papers on Crime of 201644, although some data originates from the White Papers on Crime between these two issues. Other sources used will be cited throughout this section.

Based on the information collected and analysed for the current research, three types of assistance to support reintegration and deter re-offending have been identified45. This section will deal with the following three types: “Assistance while still in prison”, “Assistance while out of prison” and “Optional assistance based on volunteers from the community”.

41Nakatani et al., “NewLegislation for Offenders with Mental Disorders in Japan.” 42 E-gov, “Offender reintegration law (kousei hogo hou).”

43Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2007 (heisei 19 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of

and countermeasures against re-offending (saihansha no jittai to taisaku).”

44Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of

re-offending and its countermeasures (saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima).”

45Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho)”; Ministry ofJustice, “Rehabilitation Bureau (hogokyoku)”; Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho)”; Reintegration network,

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Assistance while still in prison

According to the White Papers on Crime of 2007, efforts were being made to assist those prisoners scheduled to leave46. This guidance meant to achieve several goals with the eventual goal of fitting in society. This assistance can also be divided into further categories, identified by the current research. The data of the assistance while still in prison is only based on 2007, as this is the only year in which the White Papers on Crime specifically mentioned the subject. Although the White Papers on Crime could not shed much light on the further development of these aspects, the White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re-offending of 2018 confirmed that the assistance before release has been continued and improved throughout the years47. Additionally, it could be verified that most of the aspects seen during the prison time also show up as assistance after prison in later years, but this will be further elaborated upon in the next section.

General improvement

This denotes the improvement to prepare a person for a life outside of prison and a role in the society. This entails being taught or reminded how to talk and deal with other people. This could be seen as the most basic of skills being polished in order to survive in society.

Preparations for work

This denotes both the knowledge an individual requires in order to get and maintain a job, as well as the knowledge of what manners should be applied when applying for a job. These prepare a person for the employment after being released from prison.

Special improvement

This denotes the treatment and assistance in cases with special circumstances like an addiction. Another special circumstance is being a member of a gang or other criminal affiliation you wish to quit. In this case, more specific assistance in addition to the assistance mentioned in ‘General improvement’ in provided. As the “Medical treatment and supervision act” covers the cases of insanity or diminished responsibility, these are not included in the special improvement mentioned here as this only applies to ‘regular’ prisoners. However, as established earlier, the “Medical

treatment and supervision act” is limited and may thus overlook many cases. Besides denoting the existence of the special improvement, not much attention will be given to this form of improvement as it is beyond the scope of the current research.

46Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2007 (heisei 19 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of

and countermeasures against re-offending (saihansha no jittai to taisaku).”

47Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30

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Assistance while out of prison

Assistance while out of prison denotes the assistance which is offered by the government in order to improve the reintegration process after release. Although several categories are identified throughout the official documents, it is surprisingly difficult to get detailed information about the processes. What follows is a summary of the processes as mentioned throughout the official papers, which means some will be more detailed than others. The basis of this section will be the White Papers on Crime, with the general focus on the 2016 edition48. Based on this edition and information from other sources49, an attempt will be made to clarify the assistance offered when one is meant to reintegrate back into society. Additionally, this section will introduce the findings in categories which are, according to the current author, identifiable as main steps of assistance offered, based on the current research.

Customized assistance

According to the official documentation50, one of the main goals in offering assistance is to provide customized assistance. Whereas one might be inclined to offer the same amount and type of help to all of those attempting to reintegrate, the Japanese system offers customized assistance. This divides the individuals into six groups:

1. Young and/or first-time offenders. 2. Elderly and disabled individuals. 3. Women.

4. Individuals with an addiction problem. 5. Sex offenders.

6. Individuals with ties to gangs or other crime groups and who have a high risk of recidivism. Using this division, the people are then offered customized assistance in an attempt to increase the chance of a successful reintegration. This division has shown positive results according to the White

48Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of

re-offending and its countermeasures (saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima).”

49Nakamura, “Study of Job Assistance Process by Job Assistance Office for Offenders Rehabilitation (Kousei

Hogo Shuurou Shien Jigyousho No Shuurou Shien Kakari-in Ni Yoru Keimusho Shusshosha Nado No Shuurou

Shien Purosesu No Kenkyuu)”; Ward, “The Rehabilitation of Offenders: Risk Management and Seeking Good

Lives”; Ministry of Justice, “Rehabilitation Bureau (hogokyoku)”; Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho)”; Akashi, “The Role of

Volunteer Probation Officers in Japan - Recent Challenges and Responses”; Minoura, “Offender Rehabilitation

Reform in Japan: Effective Cooperation between Professional and Volunteer Probation Officers”; Liu and

Miyazawa, Crime and Justice in Contemporary Japan.

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Papers on Promotion of the Prevention of Re-offending51. These same White Papers also shed some light on some of the differences between the groups. For the young and/or first-time offenders, the assistance mostly consists of schooling. Although this is specifically aimed at this type of offender, they are not the only type of offenders eligible. For the elderly and disabled individuals there are programmes which are specifically meant to increase the welfare of these often vulnerable

individuals. This is done through assistance in the form of physical therapy or the fulfilment of other specific needs. For the girls in a youth detention centre, there is a separate program consisting of assertion and mindfulness. Both of these are meant to create a greater self-awareness and increase the respect for oneself and others in order to be able to build better human connection. Although the reason for the difference in treatment compared to other group has been explained as showing consideration for a trait in these girls, it is not clear why this is the case. Further information on the category of female offenders could not be found. For individuals with an addiction problem, groups are organized and they receive therapy in order to help them overcome their problems. A similar method exists for the sex offenders, who are also submitted to group counselling in order to overcome their problem. On top of this, sex offenders also get additional individual counselling. For the final group of offenders, those with ties to gangs or other crime groups, the process consists of creating a distance between the groups and the individuals by following a long curriculum.

Finding a place to live

When individuals are scheduled to leave, they first end up at the probation office52. This is where the individuals are prepared for independent living. This is done by placing them in a

temporary home which is supposed to support them until they can be moved to a better place after receiving more help in other areas, such as work53. During this time, they get an introduction as to what life is going to be like and thus they are prepared for the independence to come in the future. However, true independence is still quite far away, as there is a step in between. When moving out of the temporary preparation home, the individuals are moved into homes especially prepared to house those individuals preparing to move back into society54. During this period, the assistance will be decreased in order to stimulate independency. Once this phase has been completed, the

individual is given independency and the monitoring will decrease. Another possibility that is often

51Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30 Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).”

52 Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Justice, “Rehabilitation Bureau (hogokyoku)”; Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho).”

53Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of re-offending and its countermeasures (saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima)”; Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on

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implemented according to the White Papers on Crime is the combination of employment and living. When an individual attempting to reintegrate is granted a job within a company that offers housing to its employees, the individual will have both of these needs covered at once. By using this process, the individuals who are released back into society are assisted throughout the process, thus

decreasing their chance of re-offending.

Whether this is the effect of the implementation of the “Offender reintegration law” or not is

uncertain, but the spirit of the law can be found within the assistance offered55. The Offender reintegration law’ states that reintegrating offenders are to be assisted in order to become self-reliant. By offering the individuals a chance to get back up on their feet, the housing assistance grants the chance to become self-reliant by allowing them to lean on the offered assistance at first.

Finding employment

Assistance in finding employment has been shortly introduced in the former section, but will be elaborated upon here. The importance of finding employment is emphasized by the Rehabilitation Bureau56, as they state that the risk of re-offending is four times as high in individuals who are not employed. For this reason, the Japanese Ministry of Justice offers assistance to those meant to reintegrate. Based on the individual characteristics earlier, assistance is offered in order to find and maintain employment57. This assistance starts even before the individuals are released from prison58. Although there are several different routes based on individual characteristics and needs, a main course is available and generally used59.

Before the individual who wants a job can get one, more information needs to be collected first. According to Nakamura, this step can be divided into five parts, consisting of several smaller steps60. First, the designated probation officer will have to get to know the individual who is to be released. At this stage the probation officer will attempt to come to understand the individual, gain information about the individual and gain an understanding of the needs of that individual. Second, the probation officer will access this information and come up with a plan of assistance. After this

55 E-gov, “Offender reintegration law (kousei hogo hou).” 56Ministry of Justice, “Rehabilitation Bureau (hogokyoku).”

57Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30

Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).” 58 Ministry of Justice.

59Nakamura, “Study of Job Assistance Process by Job Assistance Office for Offenders Rehabilitation (Kousei

Hogo Shuurou Shien Jigyousho No Shuurou Shien Kakari-in Ni Yoru Keimusho Shusshosha Nado No Shuurou

Shien Purosesu No Kenkyuu)”; Ministry of Justice, “Kore Waaku”; Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the

Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30 Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).”

60Nakamura, “Study of Job Assistance Process by Job Assistance Office for Offenders Rehabilitation (Kousei

Hogo Shuurou Shien Jigyousho No Shuurou Shien Kakari-in Ni Yoru Keimusho Shusshosha Nado No Shuurou

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plan has been made, the probation officer will attempt to match the needs of the individual in order to find a suitable path, route and/or career. Third, the probation officer will speak directly with the individual, sharing ideas and approaches thought up by the probation officer and listening to the input of the individual. At the same time, the probation officer will make an estimation of the realistic possibility of the approach based on the input provided by the individual. The third phase comes to an end by making a plan and giving suggestions to the individual, at which time the information about specific jobs will be discussed. The fourth phase consists of working on the client. This entails motivating the client and waiting for the client to show his or her willingness. Finally, the fifth phase commences, consisting of concrete assistance to the individual. This means preparing the individual for the course he or she will take and considering what other skills or other requirements might be needed for the actual work. This phase is also connected to the next large step of the main course, consisting of the actual possibilities and registration into the databanks.

Once the individual has been prepared by the probation officer, the information about the individual is registered into databases. This is where Kore Waaku plays a role61, as this is where all of the information of the registered individuals attempting to reintegrate is collected. Kore Waaku

exists to help previous offenders reintegrate by assisting the individuals to find employment. In turn,

Kore Waaku is contacted by companies looking for employees, after which Kore Waaku introduces them to the information they have available. The companies are now free to make a selection based on the information they receive from Kore Waaku, which they submit to HelloWork, which is a company that exists to help everyone find a job62. When HelloWork received a request for an employee, the person is approached and he or she can starts working for the company. By using this process, the former offenders can register for work which they eventually get through a regular employment agency while their special needs are still being considered.

Much like in the case of the assistance concerning housing, the spirit of the “Offender

reintegration law” can clearly be seen within the assistance of finding employment63. The previous offenders are given assistance at first, in order to help them get back onto their feet. Whether this is the result of the law remains unclear.

61 Ministry of Justice, “Kore Waaku”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai

hakusho) - The current state of re-offending and its countermeasures (saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima).” 62HelloWork, “HelloWork.”

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Getting the public to understand

Another main aim of the Ministry of Justice is to raise awareness and to get people to gain a deeper understanding concerning reintegration64. On top of this, assisting those attempting to reintegrate is also being promoted in several ways. Posters are being spread, shows are organized and special comics are released, all promoting the assistance of those in need of support65.

But the action standing out most of all is the increase of the amount of Reintegration Support Centres, the building of which only started in 200866. However, up until 2017, 501 such centres were built, with plans of increasing this number by 301 in the upcoming years. These centres have several functions, all playing an important role in the reintegration process. The centres are meant to create and spread out a network available to those in need, allowing for an effective way to deal with various problems. The centres allow those individuals attempting to reintegrate to quickly come into contact with probation officers, although the centres have many different functions. But as most of these functions are part of the optional assistance based on volunteers from the community, the details of this will be elaborated upon in the next section.

PPO and VPO

Within the current system, the probation officers in Japan consist of PPOs and VPOs. It has been stated that VPOs might be more effective because they are closer to the community and thus they are more easily accepted than PPOs67. While this might be true, some more research into the topic reveals additional details68. The VPOs are there to support the PPOs by using their connections in the community, but the PPOs barely engage in any assisting of the previous offenders

themselves69. Instead, the PPOs are subjected to administrative tasks while the VPOs engage the actual people and deal with their situations. While there are the advantages the VPOs have due to their connection with the community, interviews with family members of previous offenders showed that a large amount of the people were not happy with the VPOs, calling them uninterested and

64Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2016 (heisei 28 nenban hanzai hakusho) - The current state of re-offending and its countermeasures (saihan no genjou to taisaku no ima)”; Ministry of Justice, “White papers on

crime 2017 (heisei 29 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Regional networks supporting reintegration (kousei wo shien suru chiiki no nettowaaku)”; Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re

-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30 Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).”

65 Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime 2017 (heisei 29 nenban hanzai hakusho) - Regional networks supporting reintegration (kousei wo shien suru chiiki no nettowaaku).”

66Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30 Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).”

67Akashi, “The Role of Volunteer Probation Officers in Japan - Recent Challenges and Responses”; Minoura, “Offender Rehabilitation Reform in Japan: Effective Cooperation between Professional and Volunteer Probation Officers.”

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unprofessional70. This might be explained by the division of VPOs and PPOs, as there are about 50 times more VPOs than PPOs71. Although the VPOs are supposed to be guided by the PPOs, this difference in numbers might be unsurmountable, thus not allowing for enough preparation of the VPOs. This is a conclusion which is derived from the interviews, where people make it clear that the VPOs are not trained well enough in order to deal with the situation72.

Optional assistance based on volunteers from the community

Besides the compulsory steps for previous offenders who wish to reintegrate back into the society, there are also additional possibilities available. The Reintegration Support Centres

mentioned earlier have a compulsory component in the sense that previous offenders must be under the care of a probation officer73, who are stationed at the centres. However, in order to make

reintegration more successful74, several other steps are taken by the centres75. Besides the

supervision and guidance of previous offenders, which is done under the guidance of an official body, the volunteers within the centres take additional steps to increase the efficacy of the centres. Not only the previous offenders are given attention, but the area itself is given attention, as well. Steps are taken to see what can be improved to decrease further crime in the future. Besides this, the volunteers spread information about the probation and reintegration in an attempt to educate other people, which in turn is meant to help the community become more willing to contribute. This leads to the final goal of the centres, which is to create a network76. This network is perhaps the strongest point of the centres, as it allows the expansion of assistance as well as understanding.

The initiation of the construction of these centres coincides with the release of the “Offender reintegration law” and perfectly reflects its content77. Not only does it show an increased level of support for those attempting to reintegrate, it also sets out to increase the understanding and knowledge about the topic, thus raising awareness of reintegration in the people. Although it is hard to prove that the law caused these changes, it is very likely that it at least had a part to play in it.

70 Liu and Miyazawa.

71Minoura, “Offender Rehabilitation Reform in Japan: Effective Cooperation between Professional and Volunteer Probation Officers”; Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho).”

72 Liu and Miyazawa, Crime and Justice in Contemporary Japan. 73Ministry of Justice, “Probation Bureau (hogokansatsusho).”

74 Ward, “The Rehabilitation of Offenders: Risk Management and Seeking Good Lives.”

75Ministry of Justice, “White papers on crime (Hanzai hakusho)”; Ministry of Justice, “White Papers on the

Promotion of the Prevention of Re-Offending 2018 (Heisei 30 Saihan Boushi Suishin Hakusho).”

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Labelling and the public

Reintegration is not a process which can be completed by oneself. Instead, the assistance of the public is also necessary78. However, research has shown that reintegrative shaming may be more prevalent than punitive justice in Japan, which, according to Sakiyama et al. might be positive as long as the emphasis is placed on reintegration and not on stigmatization79. When this is considered next to the Labelling theory used in Criminology, however, the reintegrative shaming might do more damage than it is fixing80. Finding a balance between effective reintegrative shaming and

stigmatization is a difficult process and should not be underestimated. With the aim of determining how reintegration and the treatment of those attempting to reintegrate fares in Japan, this section will interpret the results from several studies conducted in Japan81. This section will be divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on the role of the public within the process of reintegration and their opinions about it and the second part focusing on the public opinion about the offenders and their treatment.

The public and reintegration

Based on a questionnaire conducted by the Japanese Cabinet office in 2014, it can be established that the majority, 68.3 percent, of the people believe the reintegration system used in Japan is important and is connected to safety and a peace of mind82. Even though the majority of the people answered that this system, which is mostly based on volunteers from the community as earlier established, serves to bring safety and a peace of mind, not many people seem willing to participate. According to a study by the Japanese Ministry of Justice, 90.5 percent of the volunteers who had approached other people with the request of joining reported that they were rejected “often” or “sometimes”83. These numbers are verified by another research conducted by the Japanese Cabinet Office, which showed that only 10.4 percent of the people were willing to become

78Huang et al., “Social Capital, Rehabilitation,Tradition: Support for Restorative Justice in Japan and Australia”; Enache et al., “Aspects Regarding the Hope for Successful Reintegration of Female Detainees”; Visher and O’Connell, “Incarceration and Inmates’ Self Perceptions about Returning Home.”

79Sakiyama, Lu, and Liang, “Reintegrative Shaming and Juvenile Delinquency in Japan.”

80 Hagan, Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior; Lanier, Henry, and Anastasia,

Essential Criminology.

81Ministry of Justice, “Creating an Environment to Support Reintegration (Kousei Wo Shien Suru Chiiki No Kankyoudsukuri)”; Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki)”; Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Reintegration Projects (Kousei Hogo Jigyou Ni Kan Suru

Seron Chousa)”; Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Counter-Measures Meant to Prevent Re-Offending (Saihan Boushi Taisaku Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

82Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki).”

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a VPO, with only 5.2 percent gladly willing to do so84. This same study denotes that only 21.2 percent of the people were willing to help with the reintegration activities, which further points at the unwillingness of the people to get involved. Although another study by the Japanese Cabinet Office found that 38.8 percent of the people might be willing to help, only 10.1 percent stated that they would help, whereas the other 28.8 percent stated that they would be inclined to choose to help if they had to make a choice85. This further questions the willingness of the people to get involved in the process of reintegration, even if the majority states they do believe in the current system. The matter at hand thus requires further investigation as to what the reason behind this contradiction is.

When looking at reasons given by the public for not wanting to participate in the

reintegration process, several types of reasons can be identified. Besides the reasons pertaining to the offenders, which will be discussed shortly, a distinction can be made between personal and social reasons, although these often overlap. A personal reason given when people are asked as to why they are unwilling to take on the role of a VPO, is that they believe they cannot do it. This answer, given by 43.9 percent of those asked, points out that there may be a figurative wall deemed

unsurmountable by the public86. Not sure about the entire process or what to expect, people expect themselves not to be able to perform the task at hand. This may be the result of a lack of information as to what the role of a VPO is and could be solved by an increased clarity about the tasks of a VPO. These same results were reported by the Japanese Ministry of Justice, which showed that 60.4 percent of the people did not want to become involved as a result of a lack in their abilities to guide and help previous offenders87. Another personal reason given is a lack of time. Although results from 2014 show that only 29.1 percent of the people experience this as a reason for not participating88, results from 2017 show that 74.9 percent of the people give this as a reason for not participating 89. Due to the large difference in these results, more research is required before any conclusions can be made. The final personal reason is not knowing how to deal with people who have committed a crime, which 50.2 percent of the people gave as a reason. This may be connected to the high percentage of people who did not believe they could be a VPO as a result of lacking confidence in their own abilities. This uncertainty may lead people to decide not to get involved just to be safe.

84Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Reintegration Projects (Kousei Hogo Jigyou Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

85Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki).”

86Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Reintegration Projects (Kousei Hogo Jigyou Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

87 Ministry of Justice, “Creating an Environment to Support Reintegration (Kousei Wo Shien Suru Chiiki No Kankyoudsukuri).”

88Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki).”

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More awareness and clarification about the subject and methods may help improve this, which could lead to more willingness from the people.

The social reasons mentioned in the current research denote reasons connected to the social bonds a person has. In 2014, 38.6 percent of the people stated they feared for their own safety or that of their families90. This may denote the fear the public has about getting involved, which in turn may point to a certain stigma the previous offenders clearly have in the Japanese society. This fear may also be connected to another reason, that reason being that 67.4 percent of the participants in 2017 could not get their families to understand and thus could not participate91. Although the fear mentioned earlier does not necessarily have to be the reason for not being able to get their families to understand, the high percentage of people who were incapable of getting their families to

understand does hint at the involvement of fear of the unknown, as earlier results showed that many people did believe in the significance of the system92. Although it is likely to be linked to the

availability of time, at this time it cannot be verified that this is the reason for the vast majority of the VPOs being elderly individuals93. In 2017, 80 percent of the VPOs were over the age of 60 and when those over the age of 50 were also included, this percentage rose to 95 percent. The vast majority being elderly individuals reveals a trend of the younger people not willing to participate as a VPOs, which in turn points at a large gap. Although it is to be expected that the elderly individuals have more free time and thus more time to spare on activities and efforts connected to reintegration, the vast disparity points at a problem of the younger individuals not getting involved. This also means that there is a lot to be gained by focusing more attention on this group and thus by attempting to attract them and get them more interested.

Labelling

The low amount of willingness discussed in the previous section may in fact be a result of labelling, as labelling works two ways. The first and most obvious way is mentioned in the Labelling theory and states that people might start behaving according to the way they are treated94. The other, however, is that it can also emphasize the opinion of those in the public. When the public starts treating a label as reality, the individual being labelled may as a result be seen as dangerous and thus people might be less likely to get involved with these people. This effect has the possibility

90Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki).”

91Ministry of Justice, “Creating an Environment to Support Reintegration (Kousei Wo Shien Suru Chiiki No Kankyoudsukuri).”

92Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki).”

93Ministry of Justice, “Creating an Environment to Support Reintegration (Kousei Wo Shien Suru Chiiki No Kankyoudsukuri).”

94 Hagan, Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior; Lanier, Henry, and Anastasia,

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of acting like a vicious circle, continuously strengthening the bad image of an individual. However, the results from the a 2018 study confirm the previous results that many people believe removing or excluding people from society is not the answer, yet the public is mostly unwilling in the help

themselves95.

The current research will point out three reasons given by the public when asked why they were unwilling to assist which may serve as evidence to support the Labelling theory. The same three reasons could be identified by analysing two different studies from 2014 and 201896. The first of the three reasons given is not knowing how to deal with people who committed a crime. In the 2014 and 2018 studies, respectively 50.2 and 44.9 percent of the people mentioned this as one of the reasons. This may point to the public having a certain image about people who committed crime and may be afraid and unsure of how to deal with them, perhaps even seeing them as distanced from the rest of society. By doing this, it may be forgotten that the previous criminals are still humans and do not necessarily require different treatment, with possible exceptions like certain violent offenders. This fear can also be identified within the second reason, as this points out that people fear either for their own safety or that of their families. In the 2014 and 2018 studies, respectively 38.6 and 43 percent of the public stated this as a reason, pointing to a certain stigma which is present within the public opinion. This stigma is consistent with a certain level of fear and uncertainty, thus supporting the fear mentioned in the previous point. The final reason identified was an unwillingness to deal with people who committed a crime, which respectively 30.3 and 35.5 percent of the people gave as one of the reasons in the 2014 and 2018 studies. Although the first reason mentioned here could be circumstantial and does not necessarily, although it likely does, have to be connected to

stigmatization, the other two reasons show an undeniable inclination towards this process. Fearing previous offenders or plainly not wanting to get involved with them shows that the public have a certain opinion about these previous offenders.

The results above are further supported by results from another study by the Japanese Cabinet Office in 201897. When the public is asked whether people who committed crime once are inclined to commit crime again, only 9.3 percent of the people answered that this is rare, whereas 44.6 percent answered that this is very common. The people not within either of these groups were unable to give a concrete answer, which shows that the people do not have enough knowledge

95Cabinet office, “Research Concerning the Public Opinion about Counter-Measures Meant to Prevent Re-Offending (Saihan Boushi Taisaku Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

96Cabinet office, “Awareness about Reintegration (Kousei Hogo Ni Tai Suru Ishiki)”; Cabinet office, “Research

Concerning the Public Opinion about Counter-Measures Meant to Prevent Re-Offending (Saihan Boushi

Taisaku Ni Kan Suru Seron Chousa).”

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about the subject. In turn, this may increase fear in the people, as people are inclined to fear what they do not know or understand. Although it is true that there are many offenders who will become re-offenders, the current research has shown that the majority of the offenders are still first-time offenders. This means that even though there are reasons to think that re-offenders are very common, it is very important to emphasize that there is also a large group of people who not only commit crime once, but may also desist from crime when offered assistance. Keeping this in mind, Japan may profit from placing more focus on the success rates of reintegration in order to help ease the mind of the public and thus motivate more people to help.

Finally, this section will conclude by showing results which offer evidence for the existence of labelling in Japan, taken from the same study as the information about repeat offenders98. When the public was asked how they felt about the fact that many previous offenders are looked at differently when compared to the average citizen, 41.3 percent answered that this was not good and should not happen. Only 8.2 percent of the public stated that this was only natural, 46.9 percent stated that although it was not good, it was definitely understandable. Although this may not seem important, as the 46.9 percent still stated they thought it was not good but understandable, this points at the majority of the people thinking it is understandable or even natural that criminals and previous criminals are looked at differently. Even if the intention of the 46.9 percent might be good, the fact that they feel this way about the subject, the current author argues, shows that the majority of the public accept that criminals are not looked at as regular people. Thus the current author deduces that, although perhaps unconsciously, there is a stigmatization of previous offenders in Japan. It has already been stated as to why it is important to understand this problem, thus more research should be conducted in order to verify or falsify these findings.

Conclusion

The current research set out to investigate the problem of re-offending and reintegration in Japan. In order to increase the understanding about the topic, the current research was divided into three parts, all of which were necessary in order to deepen the understanding. Each of these parts handled a specific research question, which will be shortly addressed here.

The current research first set out to answer the following research question: “How successful is reintegration from prison back into the society in Japan?”. This was done by mapping out how many of the offenders are first-time offenders compared to those who were re-offenders, as a successful reintegration should decrease the amount of re-offenders. The results showed that,

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although there is a percentual increase of re-offenders, this is actually the result of an overall drop in crime and a steep drop in first-time offenders. The absolute numbers actually show that the amount of re-offender has been going down in the past few years, just not at the rate at which the first-time offenders have been going down. This means that the success of reintegration has gone up in the past few years, but for some reason first-time offender are still deterred more successfully. As a result, it can be concluded that there is still a problem with reintegration in Japan, although not as severe as previously suspected.

Next, an attempt was made to answer the following research question: “How are those released from prison supported and what options are available for them?”. By answering this research question, the processes applied to those offered assistance in order to deter from further crime were mapped out and clarified as much as was possible at this time. To the knowledge of the current author, this is the first time this process has been mapped out in the way it has been done in the current research. The most important conclusion is that there has been an increase in the

awareness of the problem of re-offending and reintegration in the government. This is apparent from all the changes made in the past few years, first in an attempt to increase the official assistance, but soon afterwards to motivate the public to become a part of it, as well. Besides this conclusion, it also became apparent that it is rather difficult to find concrete information about the processes used to guide re-offenders. Although there are some guides meant to explain the processes, the details of these processes are not easy to find. This may also lead to the problem of people being unaware of the process and thus fear its vagueness. An increased openness here could help increase the efficacy of the programmes.

Finally, an attempt was made to answer the last research question: “What is the public opinion about those attempting to reintegrate and its possible influence?”. Several important findings were identified as a result of this question. Elaborating on the increased openness

mentioned before, this is a problem which also becomes apparent when considering the voice of the public. Many were unsure about what a VPO actually does, or lacked the self-confidence to be able to consider what they could add. It became clear that the majority of the public believes in

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have in the Japanese society. This label, perhaps unconsciously, makes people wary of getting

involved with offenders and previous offenders, which may in term result in these previous offenders feeling left out and returning back to crime. One final problem could be identified and this problem consists of age. Of those people helping and willing to help, the large majority were the elderly, which points to young people not getting involved in the process. When considering that many previous offenders are also young people, getting accepted and offered assistance by their peers may increase the chance of a successful reintegration. Thus more of an effort should be made to get more young people involved in the assistance of previous offenders.

Additionally, the questionnaires showed that some people had problems dealing with the VPOs. Some were said to be unprofessional and not trained well enough. This is not strange, considering that the amount of VPOs greatly outnumbers the amount of PPOs. Although one of the points of the ‘Offender reintegration law’ was aimed at implementing probation officers, no real increase in PPOs has been seen. An increase of PPOs has the possibility of increasing the efficacy of the VPOs, which could in turn lead to a more successful system. It is therefore recommended that future research should focus on the importance of the PPOs in the successful implementation of the VPOs

In general, it can be concluded that a lot of effort has already been put in the deterrence of re-offending and supporting of reintegration back into the society. Despite these efforts and the high amount of VPOs, however, the success is still limited and might be further increased by even more awareness of reintegration in the public, followed by an increased involvement of the public. In addition to this, it should be remembered that deterring from crime is hard and is not always successful. As a result, the current author holds the opinion that the decrease in the amount of re-offenders should be seen as a good start and that further focus should be aimed at the public, which plays a very important role and should not be left behind. If the awareness of reintegration in the public can be raised, former offenders will be welcomed back into the society with more ease, thus increasing the chance of a normal life and decreasing the chance of re-offending. This is further supported by the fact that detainees and prisoners lose a lot of their social contacts while in prison. By creating more acceptance, social bonds could be strengthened, which could in turn serve to support those attempting to reintegrate.

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Figure

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References

Related subjects : *White Papers