Japan's prisons of torture

A Japanese town council has decided to introduce new rules allowing the jailing of householders who don’t paint their homes a chosen colour for up to a year.

The threat is a strong one for people who don’t like the preferred shade of green, for those incarcerated in Japan’s prison system life is systematised daily torture.

One American who was transferred to serve the second part of his prison sentence in the US proclaimed after the move: ‘I felt like I had died and gone to Disneyland. The difference in the two prison systems is incredible.’

Prisoners in Japan’s prisons suffer as do prisoners all over the world with regular beatings and solitary confinement which is a matter of course for those who transgress the rules. However what makes Japan’s system of abuses against prisoners worse is the authoritarian extenuation of Japan’s functional and hierarchical modes of daily life into prison life.

Bow, sit, lie on you bed, eat your food, wipe your face; indeed, any normal and habitual activity of the body done incorrectly and you will be punished. Sit in the middle of you cell, roll you bed up properly, do not talk unless you are given permission. Failure to meet these so called ‘rules’ results in absurd punishments such as having to sit in the same position for 10 hour stretches, for weeks at a time.

Or the prisoner may find himself in ‘protection cells’ having to wear a trousers with a slit under the anus to defecate through. His hands are permanently handcuffed behind his back and he eats from bowls left on the floor. Rations are regularly cut in half as further punishment.

It was -as one prisoner says - ‘like a boot camp for the Nazis’… and …’we were being systematically turned into automatons’.
It is a system where the state attempts to control every function of a person’s body where even a prisoner’s exercise of his ultimate power – suicide - is covered up. For the authorities cannot be seen to be powerless in any circumstances.

The prisons are also a serious health hazard. Most of them do not have any heating and prisoners regularly suffer frostbite in Japan’s harsh winters, and conversely heat stroke and exhaustion in the summer. Nick Baker an English prisoner has suffered frostbite to his hands over several winters. Over the years he has lost several stone in weight.

Getting ill is something to be avoided at all costs. Forms have to be completed to see a doctor and then it will be several days before the consultation actually takes place. Tuberculosis is widespread and many prisoners suffer from numerous skin complaints because of the poor sanitation.

More information concerning Nick Baker can be found at www.justicefornickbaker.org.