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The number of inmates at prisons and detention houses in Japan rose last year for the eighth straight year, topping 60,000 for the first time in 34 years, Justice Ministry sources said Saturday.

The number of prisoners and detainees at the nation’s 190 prisons and detention houses stood at 61,242 at the end of last year, up 9 percent, or about 5,000, from a year earlier, according to preliminary statistics compiled by the ministry.

The ministry sources attributed the rise to a general increase in crime due to economic slump-induced higher unemployment as well as to the tendency of Japanese courts to hand down stricter punishments over the years.

Of the total, there were 50,125 prisoners, up 10 percent from a year earlier, or 104 percent of Japan’s stated jail capacity, forcing some institutions to put seven inmates in a cell for six, they said.

The number of people being held at detention houses was 11,117, up 6 percent. Detailed data such as the number of prisoners per day and the ratio of non-Japanese prisoners will be released in an annual report in late June.

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