A Japanese prison guard patrols the hallway at Fuchu Prison in Tokyo<br /> (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara).
(AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

“As allegations of neglect, mistreatment and abuse of foreign nationals at immigration detention centers in Japan begin to surface, an incident of abuse within the prison system has now emerged. It is unclear if the alleged victim in this incident is a foreign national or a Japanese citizen, but he is described as a man in his 50s. One may ask is this a new trend? Or is it something that has been going on for years? Are these isolated incidents? Or is there a greater deep seeded problem in Japanese law enforcement and correctional institutions? Five prison guards at Miyazaki Prison are being accused of abusing inmates and falsifying documents. Prison guards are accused of turning up the heat in an inmate’s cell during a 24 hour period in the month of July. The temperature soared to 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The guards involved in the incident allegedly admitted to the allegations, stating that it was retaliation for what was described as an inmate with a bad attitude and he had to be taught a lesson.

Motomura, 47 allegedly changed the record of the room temperature from 38 to 28 degrees Celsius and consequently created new records when the inmate filed a complaint during an internal investigation. The Mainichi Daily News online reported information that the Miyazaki Prison officials handed over a report of the five guards to the public prosecutors office on Friday April 23, 20010 citing abuse under the color of authority and falsifying official documents. During the course of the investigation one of the guards committed suicide and had apparently left behind a note, details have not been released, therefore I have been unable to find information regarding the contents of the note. This particular event was apparently discovered during an investigation by Fukuoka correctional authorities on a non-related incident of abuse in November of last year.

Three of the guards received six month suspension notices while one guard received a 10 percent reduction in pay for two months. The Mainichi Daily News online list the guards as Yuji Hatae (57), Norihiko Motomura (47), an unnamed head correctional treatment officer (46) an unnamed supervising correctional treatment officer (52) and an unnamed supervising correctional treatment officer (36). The Mainichi article states that a 55 year old officer committed suicide however the eldest officers are listed as 57 and 52 years of age and there are several officers not named therefore it is difficult to determine who actually committed suicide. We try to keep the facts strait here at BT, so I apologize for any confusion. Please share with us your thoughts regarding recent incidents of abuse in the Japanese prison system as well as immigration detention centers.”

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