A prison guard has been sacked after engaging a prisoner in otaku-related conversation.
The affair began at Chiba Prison, where a 31-year-old guard was found to have chatted with a prisoner at least 20 times over a 4 year period.
Their conversations dealt with such topics as games and manga, including as the number of volumes various manga reached and the price of DVDs, with the officer helpfully looking up the details at home on his PC and telling the inmate later.
The guard explained that “As he was a difficult inmate, I thought that by accommodating him he would become easier to manage.”
He is also accused of other unforgivably improper conduct, including telling other inmates the names of his fellow officers.
Once his actions came to light, he was subject to disciplinary measures and then “voluntarily” retired the same day.
The prison head offered the usual formulaic platitude – “I offer my profound apologies to the country, and I intend to ensure no such lapse occurs again in future.”
The prisoner’s sentence and crime were not specified, although Chiba Prison only houses male first-time offenders serving sentences of 8 years or more.
Japanese prisons are known for their harsh conditions (at least compared to the prison-hotels run by many other developed nations), although the authorities tend to treat custodial sentences as a last resort and Japan’s incarceration rate of 54 per 100,000 citizens compares rather favourably to such bastions of liberty as the US, with a rate of 715 per 100,000.
However, the prevailing attitude is that offenders are to be subjected to extremes of discipline and austerity – and it would seem this extends even to friendly conversations between inmates and guards.