In late September, South Korea joined a group of nations where the movements of released sex-crime offenders are electronically monitored. Such offenders have to wear electronic anklets and additional communication devices all the time. Fifty-three convicted offenders have become the first group to wear the Global Positioning System devices.

In April, a special panel of the Liberal Democratic Party proposed discussing the merits of GPS-based electronic monitoring of sex-crime repeaters. A panel of the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council has also touched on the issue.

Politicians and officials in Japan should not jump to conclusions about the issue without a broad, informed public debate. It is necessary that they carefully examine what is happening in the nations where the GPS monitoring system is being used and to disseminate their findings to the public.

In South Korea, convicts subject to electronic monitoring upon completion of their sentence or release on parole are thosehaving been convicted of sex crimes twice and then repeated a sex crime within five years after their release from prison, having repeated sex crimes twice or more and showing a recidivistic tendency, or having committed sex crimes against children aged 13 or under. The maximum period for monitoring is 10 years.

In June 2005, Japan’s Justice Ministry started informing the National Police Agency of scheduled prison release dates and the planned abodes of those convicted of sex crimes against children aged 13 or under. By the end of 2007, the ministry provided such information on 410 offenders, but 10 percent of them were not residing at their listed abodes.

Japan’s policy is to push the social rehabilitation of sex-crime offenders while striving to prevent recidivism. The Justice Ministry should improve the system for providing information on sex-crime offenders to police and probation officers. The government also should try to grasp the real incidence and nature of sex crimes, since they may not be fully reported to police.

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