The Japanese Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will start to provide an interpretation service via videophone for foreign nationals held in Japanese prisons and detention centers. The MOJ made the decision as it expects more foreigners will be detained amid a surge in the number of foreign tourists. The service will be launched in November.
The MOJ plans to connect prisons in Tochigi, Fuchu, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Osaka that have “international specialists,” possessing interpretation and translation skills, with other facilities through a videophone line. Some prisons have been providing the service on a trial basis since August 2016. But the MOJ has decided to offer the service to facilities nationwide. A tablet computer will be provided to each of the five prisons and other facilities will use existing video conference equipment for the new service.
Foreign nationals with virtually no Japanese language ability are now detained at prisons where international specialists are deployed. But there were cases where other facilities required interpretation in dealing with violations of rules and medical issues. Currently, 17 international specialists are sent from the five prisons to other facilities if the need arises. But the MOJ hopes the new service will help prevent trouble at facilities without such specialists.
Of the 58,497 people held in Japanese prisons, 3,226 are foreign nationals.