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The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has compiled a free English information booklet to help foreigners in Japan understand their rights and legal procedures in prisons.

The booklet is a translation of the latest Japanese edition of Information for Prison Inmates. It includes information on prison procedures such as punishment and solitary confinement, medical care, visits and outside contact, and legal aid. It is already available from the federation and soon will be posted on its Web site.

“Regardless of whether the inmates are Japanese or foreigners, their rights should be protected,” said Miyuki Sakai, the federation’s deputy secretary general for public information. “It would be a problem if foreign inmates don’t understand their rights simply because they can’t comprehend the Japanese language.”

She said the federation has not considered offering the information in other languages.

In the March revision of the Japanese edition, the federation added a section on issues unique to foreigners, such as the use of foreign languages in visits and letters, and dietary needs due to religion. The latest Japanese version sells for 300 yen and will also be available on the Web site.

Foreigners, excluding those with permanent resident status, were involved in 40,615 criminal cases in 2003, up 16.9 percent from the previous year and exceeding 40,000 for the first time, the National Police Agency said last month.

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