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In a revision of its policy, the Justice Ministry’s Correction Bureau has decided to allow juvenile correctional centers to house juvenile offenders for more than three years, bureau officials said Sept. 8.

The decision, to be sent to the heads of juvenile correctional facilities, takes effect Sept. 9.

Hiromi Okudaira, director of the education division at the bureau, told reporters that the slayings and attacks on children in Kobe and the subsequent arrest of a 15-year-old boy prompted the ministry to revise its policy.

A previous memo from the bureau had stated that a youth who committed a crime could be sent to a correctional facility for up to two years, adding that the rehabilitation period could be extended one more year after that if necessary. In the wake of the Kobe incident, this previous policy came under heavy public criticism.

The new policy still contains a passage that says the rehabilitation period at juvenile correctional centers should be two years, but that it can be made longer on an individual basis. The length of stay at correctional facilities can also be extended more than once if correctional authorities determine a youth has not been rehabilitated after the completion of a term.

Under the Reformatory Law, youths who have a serious physical or mental disorder, or whose criminal tendency is not corrected after the completion of the programs, can be ordered to stay in the facilities until they turn 23 years old. If they still have serious disorders after that, they can be ordered to stay until the age of 26.

Bureau officials added that they will create a new category in its long-term treatment programs for those whose “problematic tendencies are extremely complicated and serious,” the officials said.

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