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The Justice Ministry announced Tuesday it will replace a controversial leather restraining device — which has been criticized as an instrument of torture — with leather manacles lined with felt on the inside.

The device currently used in prisons has manacles attached to a leather belt, one hand at the front and the other behind the back. The belt can be cinched so tightly around a prisoner’s abdomen that it can cause internal injury. The new version of the restraint does not include a belt.

In the wake of revelations of two cases of fatal abuse by guards at Nagoya Prison over the past two years, the ministry decided in early March to replace the device with one that cannot be used as an instrument of torture.

One inmate died in May last year at Nagoya Prison after being restrained in the device and suffering abdominal injuries. Another was severely injured in a similar incident in September.

Six prison guards are currently on trial before the Nagoya District Court on charges of involvement in the two cases.

The new restraints, to be introduced in October, will have felt lining so they do not hurt prisoners’ wrists, ministry officials said.

If a prisoner causes a problem, he will be restrained in the handcuffs, which bind both hands together either in front or behind the body, and placed in “protection chambers,” or padded cells.

The 10-cm-wide manacles will not be closed tightly on a prisoner’s wrists, the officials claimed.

If handcuffed prisoners continue to act violently, they will be placed in protective head gear so they do not suffer head injuries, the officials said.

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