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New interpretation system eyed for foreign prisoners

The Yomiuri Shimbun The Justice Ministry intends to introduce a videophone-based interpretation system for foreign nationals in prisons and detention centers.

The system is expected to be implemented in November and is aimed at responding to the increase in foreigners at such facilities amid a surge in the number of overseas visitors to Japan. The ministry plans to connect foreign inmates and detainees by videophone with international affairs officers who can provide interpretation and translation and are assigned to prisons in Tochigi, Fuchu in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka.

The interpretation system has been introduced at some prisons on a trial basis since August last year, and it will be expanded to other facilities across the country. Under the full-fledged system, one tablet device will be placed at each of the five prisons above, with other facilities expected to use the video conference devices they already have.

Foreigners who understand almost no Japanese are imprisoned in facilities where international affairs officers are based. There have also been cases at other facilities, however, where interpreters were needed to explain a foreigner’s violation of facility rules or medical care.

Currently, 17 international affairs officers deal with such cases, visiting the facilities as needed. The ministry is aiming to prevent problems by introducing the videophone system.

As of the end of 2015, the total number of inmates and detainees in the country was 58,497. Of this number, 3,226 were foreign nationals.Speech

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