全国地域生活定着支援センター協議会は、矯正施設を退所した高齢・障がい者の社会復帰と再犯防止を支援し、全国のセーフティーネットの構築に邁進します。

English

Building social safety nets for the aged and handicapped ex-offenders in Japan

Zenteikyo

2014-09-09 (火) 08:12:33

Zenteikyo is the council of the 48 Regional Sustained Community Life Support Centers for the Elderly and Handicapped Ex-offenders across 47 prefectures throughout entire Japan (Hokkaido has 2 centers to serve larger areas).

We support elderly and handicapped ex-offenders to relive and help them prevent recidivism. In order to promote works of the Centers, we integrate the Centers in cooperation with national and local governments, and private organizations since 2010 as a non-profit organization.

We aim for a world where those with disabilities do not need to commit crimes, where they can achieve and maintain their freedom, realize their potential and grow old within the community.

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map national map international

Zenteikyo is an abbreviation for its long Japanese name (Zenkoku-chiiki-seikatsu-Teichaku-shien-center-Kyougikai), which is translated into

"the Japan Council of Regional Sustained Community Life Support Centers for the Elderly and Handicapped Ex-offenders."

How Zenteikyo began

It all began with a book "Repeated offenders with disabilities" written by Joji Yamamoto in 2006 who was an ex-politician and ex-offender.

In Kurobane prison in Tochigi prefecture where Yamamoto served about a year and half, he used to take care of elderly and the handicapped prisoners with personal care such as toileting, bathing, etc. After released from the prison, he wrote books about these prisoners and the Criminal Justice System of Japan concerning this particular population.

Yamamoto's books have casted such provoking questions as why elderly and handicapped did not receive any support until now, why they must remain in prison, why they have been isolated, etc.

Here is a website Japan Probe showing a video of the Kurobane's older prisoners as of 2010.


Joji Yamamoto Yamamoto's one of the books "Repeated Offenders with Disabilities"


The founder of Zenteikyo and the head of its board members, Yosiaki Tashima, was stroked by the Yamamoto's books to the degree that he organized study groups of lawyers, social workers, government officials, etc. to investigate the situation then to solve the problems.

Yoshiaki Tashima , the Founder of Zenteikyo

The Minister of Justice has chaged as of Sep 2014 since this photo was taken.

After several years of study done by a team of researchers including Yamamoto and funded by the Japanese government, Tashima took the initiative to create the 48 Regional Sustained Community Life Support Centers for the Elderly and Handicapped Ex-offenders throughout entire Japan in 2009, inspiring the all involved in this matter.

Older people and people with disabilities in the Criminal Justice System of Japan have been a hidden and little-recognized population, but not any more.

Elderly offenders in Japan

According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of older people (those over 65-years-old) arrested has increased, with the number in 2011 being approximately 6.3 times that of 1992. The increase of elderly offenders in recent years has far exceeded that of the general elderly population in Japan. 

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older offenders_trends

In 2011, out of a total of 305,951, some 48,637 older people were arrested for theft such as shoplifting (72.8%), embezzlement such as bicycle theft (12.5%), and other offences.

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older offenders_offence types

Offenders with learning disabilities

Meanwhile, the number of people with intellectual disabilities being arrested and its trend is not systematically tracked down. What we know from the most recent research, which is available only in Japanese, done by the Ministry of Justice is that:

  • Of the 56,039 inmates in 2012, there were 1,274 inmates (a ratio of 2.4%) who have or are suspected to have intellectual disabilities, with an equivalent value of IQ below 69.
  • Out of 1,274 inmates (1,207 males and 67 females), some 774 persons have intellectual disabilities whilst some 500 persons are suspected to have them.
  • Of the 774 persons, some 351 persons are the holders of the legal certificate for their disabilities issued by the municipal government, which is a ratio of 0.7% among a whole inmate population and that of 27.6% among those with (suspected) intellectual disabilities.

The characteristics of those population

The followings are extracted from the above-mentioned research in Japanese:

  • Compared to total adult population arrested, a ratio for theft (shoplifting, etc.) and fraud (eat and run) is high.
  • Prison term is relatively short, with imprisonment of one year or less.
  • Admission frequency is an average of 3.4 times for those with intellectual disabilities, compared to 3.1 times for the total population surveyed.
  • Significant difference was also observed for the highest admission frequency, with 5 time and more for those with intellectual disabilities.
  • Looking at the age and admission frequency, 68.5% of inmates are those who are over 65 years of age and admitted more than 5 times with, compared to 43.9% for the total inmates.
  • They most likely to have the history of probation as a minor while living in child support and orphanage facilities.
  • As an adult, they most likely to have a history of criminal punishment with probation.
  • Before imprisonment, those who had income are less than 25% while some 20% had no income.
  • They are most likely to have no education history, or extremely limited education such as incompletion of junior high school and only junior high school diploma.
  • Composition ratio of person that has is high.
  • Empirical evidence suggests that recidivism rate for this population high due to a lack of rehabilitation opportunity for the aged and the intellectually disabled.
  • Recidivism rates for re-arrest is highest during the first year of release.
  • Normal parole is not granted because there is no sponsor necessary for parole is available.
  • Release is therefore upon the completion of a full sentence without receiving social adjustment training in prison.
  • Out into the community with the absence of any change in the environment compared to pre-entering the prison, leading to recidivism.

What we do

Zenteikyo promotes the integration of social and legal services for the aged and disabled (re-)offenders by:

  • Working in liaison with the government and the public, we promote cooperation of judicial institutions and welfare facilities that accept elderly and handicapped ex-offenders,
  • Improving the skills of those in judicial and welfare fields who help elderly and handicapped ex-offenders,
  • Conducting nation-wide researches and seminars to make current social work practice and system better,
  • Recommend the government branches of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare as well as the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the supporting system for elderly and handicapped ex-offenders, and
  • other activities to improve the social safety nets in Japan.



We therefore do not interact individual prisoners, offenders and ex-offenders but work together with 48 Regional Sustained Community Life Support Centers. The Centers encourage the resettlement and rehabilitation of prisoners, offenders and ex-offenders with disabilities as well as those over the age of 65, by:

  • Linking them up with the provision of social, medical, and legal support services, advocacy, financial advice,
  • Mentoring and monitoring them on issues such as social skill training, and advice on housing and health, enabling them to take control of their lives and remain free from offending, and
  • Preventing them from becoming socially excluded.

Zenteikyo has 9 board members including specialists in social work and law.

Our operation is funded partly by the membership fees and mostly bu an annual grant by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

In 2013 fiscal year, 70.5% of budget funded by the Ministry was spent for national and regional training and practical conferences , 20.7% was allocated to 2 secretariat personnel expenses, 7% for data management software development, and the remaining 1.8 % was used for office consumables. On the other hand, fees of regular members was used for administrative expenses involved in conferences.

Zenteikyo's activities

In addition to organizing annual national/regional seminars, events and meetings to evolve our services, we conduct research studies on relevant themes to improve our practice and a system of government.

  • 2014 fiscal year's upcoming main events:
  • national annual seminar in Osaka, 20-21 January 2015, for those who are involved in/concerned about elderly and handicapped ex-offenders
  • national conference in Tokyo, 14 Nov 2014, for members and government officials from the branch of Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare and Ministry of Justice, for the discussion to improve a system of government
  • national seminar in Tokyo, 3 Oct 2014, for members, Zenteikyo's data management computer soft "Light 2014"
  • national survey on recidivism for elderly and handicapped ex-offenders who have been assisted by the Centers since 2009, deadline: 30 Sep 2014 (Many thanks to your cooperation!)


  • In the past
    • 2013
    • 2012
    • 2011
    • 2010
    • 2009
      (listing in preparation)

Our challenges

(in preparation)

FAQ & Related websites in English

Contact us

If you are an individual or another organisation with similar goals, we would love to work with you. Zenteikyo aims to strengthen the social safety net for the elderly and handicapped ex-offenders, in particular. Get in touch to see how we can work together.

[check] You will receive a confirmation mail first before we contact you by e-mail individually. In the form please specify your area in Japan or overseas.

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