Is Prison the New Pension Plan?

By Shannon-Annie Moore -Student

It has been reported that there has been a steady increase of elderly people in Japan committing crimes, as pensioner’s turn to crime with the aim of prosecution as a way of escaping loneliness and poverty.

The report suggests that Japanese pensioners are turning to crime with the hope of long stays in Japanese jails.

The BBC interviewed 69-year-old Toshio Takata who, explained that he had reached pension age and then ran out of money. As he was struggling, he turned to crime as he thought he could live for free in jail. His first crime was committed at 62 years old. He took a bicycle and walked all the way to the Police Station where he told the Police he had stolen the bike. In Japan petty theft is treated very seriously so they sentenced him to one-year in jail. After he was released, he threatened a woman with a knife. Toshio said he had no intention of harming anyone he just hoped they would contact the police so he would get arrested – which he did.

Obviously when in prison the prisoners get free accommodation. Their pension does not stop meaning it is easier for them to live once released. Once a law-abiding society, there is growing number of crimes being carried out in Japan by the over 65s. 21 years ago the age group accounted for 1/20 convictions. Today, the figure has grown to more than 1/5.

Traditionally, the older generation would be looked after by their children but with the economic opportunity, children are moving away leaving their parents to find work. The pensioners are torn between not wanting to burden their children, yet unable to live on the State pension.

The Japanese Government have expanded prison capacity, installing hand rails and special toilets and recruited extra female prison guards to support the number of elderly female criminals which is dramatically increasing. Pensioners are struggling across the world. Whilst crime is not the answer, neither is leaving these vulnerable people alone, without the ability to pay for rising living costs, fuel costs and food bills. Society has a responsibility to look after the older generation and crime should not be the answer. 

SULAC provides free legal advice to the most vulnerable in our society. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.


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