Rachel in Tokyo

This is a blog about an American law school student studying in Tokyo for the semester.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fuchu Prison

We go on the most fascinating field trips with the school! Here we are at FUCHU PRISON. One of 2 state prison facilities here in Japan. Since Japan is a unitary national system, there is no such thing as a "state" prison facility as we know them in the US. But, rather there are 2 main prison facilities where criminals go to get reformed. One interesting contrast between the US and Japan, is the Japanese efforts directed toward rehabiliting and reforming prisoners, rather than our US system based mostly upon retribution.

For example, the prisoners are kept on a tight schedule. They work 40 hours a week, for pay. Granted, the pay is very nominal, nevertheless they leave with money in their pockets to help them build a new life for themselves. Furthermore, the prison makes money on the products that the prisoners make! There is even a gift shop where you can buy things like silk komonos, shirts, shoes, furniture, porcelein products, art, caligraphy pieces, and much, much more! Not only are the prisoners able to occupy their time with worthwhile jobs, they learn a trade in the process. They even have a mechanic's shop where people can bring their cars in for repair!

We have been taking a class in Japanese comparative law here at Temple. We have been learning all about the US occupation of Japan after the war and other things surrounding the political and military atmosphere of Japan. As a result, as we walked up to the prison, our minds ran wild with all of the crazy reasons why the Fuchu Prison would display an American flag alongside their Japanese flag outside the prison? Were we part of their prison system, too? Do we have so many American guards and other professionals working there that they put up both flags? Is the Fuchu Prison part of some military establishment? etc. etc...

When we asked the Warden why the American flag was displayed, we kicked ourselves inside when he answered us so simply. "We wanted to welcome your school group, and show you we are grateful you chose to visit us!" We really need to stop overanalyzing things as law students!

Here is my friend, Edward Yeh. Edward is from Taiwan. He is actually a Chinese Law Professor! And his English is impeccable. I find it fascinating when I look at his notepad that he keeps for class. You could never use his notes to cheat on a test! They are all in chinese! I think it's his way of keeping his work product private! No, really, Ed is a great guy, and wants me to make sure all of my lady-friends from the States know that he is SINGLE!!!!

Here is another friend of mine, Brian Donelly. Brian goes to UF, and is well versed in Chinese culture as well.


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