National / Social Issues

New magazine offers convicts hope of escaping from a life of crime

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

To prevent those with criminal convictions from committing further offenses after leaving correctional facilities, a job magazine for people with a history of crime or delinquency will be distributed at prisons and juvenile training schools nationwide starting mid-July.

Akiko Miyake, head of Human Comedy Co., the Tokyo-based firm that publishes the magazine and helps social rehabilitation, believes that establishing a career path for those with convictions before they leave correctional facilities is the best way to make positive changes in their lives.

“After leaving prison, there’s a high likelihood of former convicts going back to jail after stealing things, (because of) having no job or place to stay,” Miyake told The Japan Times.

“Their life and way of thinking must be changed, or they’ll commit subsequent offenses,” she said. “It’s possible for them to change that, by feeling a sense of belonging and gaining confidence, (and) through working with colleagues who accept them.”

According to statistics published by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, of the 251,115 total cases in which police took action against crimes in 2014, 47.1 percent, or 118,381 cases, involved those with previous convictions.

The first edition of the magazine will be distributed to about 100 facilities nationwide. Since career counseling provided by prisons is frequently inadequate, Miyake hopes the magazine will become an additional platform for convicts to seek career opportunities.

According to a Justice Ministry tally, 3,907 imprisoned convicts received job placement assistance in fiscal 2015. But of that total, only 356 were able to secure employment.

“That’s why I’m making the job magazine,” she said.

Earlier in June, Human Comedy started taking inquiries from companies wishing to see their job offerings published in the magazine.

The first edition will carry job postings for convicts from 10 companies, mostly from the construction industry, said Miyake.

“There are companies that judge applicants by their motivation, and not based on their history,” said Miyake.

“Some companies even say that those (with criminal records) are rather hard working and prepared,” she said.