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The Justice Ministry will seek a sharp increase in its fiscal 2003 budget to address the problem of overcrowding in Japan’s prisons and request a “research budget” to build the first new prisons in about 20 years, ministry sources said.

The ministry is planning to request 19.1 billion yen, up 62.6 percent from the current fiscal year, to maintain correctional facilities. Most of the money would be used to expand existing prisons, they said Saturday.

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