The government is seeking to stop ex-convicts from repeating criminal offenses and being imprisoned again as one of the key pillars of its anti-crime policy. In 2016, legislation to promote efforts to prevent recidivism was enacted, holding the national and local governments responsible for implementing relevant measures. The following year, a plan featuring measures to help find them jobs and places to stay, thus stabilizing their lives and easing their return into society, was adopted by the Cabinet. Government reports released last month indicate, however, that repeat offenses by the nation's elderly population are an increasingly serious problem that demands attention and action.
According to the white paper on crimes released last month, the number of criminal offenses recognized by investigation authorities in 2017 fell for the 15th consecutive year to some 915,000, while the number of people on whom the authorities took action such as arrests fell for the fifth year in a row to 215,000 — both postwar lows. However, the ratio of recidivists — people punished more than once — remained unchanged from the previous year at 48.7 percent, the worst-ever level. And a large part of the problem is attributed to the growing ranks of people 65 or older who repeat criminal offenses after being released from jail.
Senior citizens who serve prison terms often face difficulties finding employment after finishing their sentences. When they don't have immediate family members or relatives to turn to for support, some of them end up repeating crimes such as theft and being sent back to prison.