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Bar association recommends more 'inmate-friendly' commodity prices at Osaka Prison

The Osaka Prison is seen in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, in this 2007 file photo. (Mainichi/Katsuyuki Uchibayashi)
A box of tissues.

OSAKA -- With prices of certain daily necessities at the Osaka Prison shop hitting multiples of what they are outside the walls, putting them out of reach for some inmates, the Osaka Bar Association advised the facility on March 29 to tamp down the sticker shock.

At the prison in the Osaka Prefecture city of Sakai, western Japan, a box of tissues is about 4.5 times the general market price, while a toothbrush is tagged around 1.7 times higher.

"The prices are decided by our contractor. We believe they are appropriate, but we accept the advisory," a prison representative said.

The issue came to light after a male inmate filed a human rights complaint, sparking an investigation by the bar association. As the inmate received only about 4,500 yen a month for work inside the facility, he was quoted as saying, "I couldn't afford such luxury tissues even outside prison."

As of 2016, a toothbrush sold at the jailhouse was priced at 181 yen, a box of 800 tissues at 594 yen and a men's underwear at 702 yen. These were significantly higher than the general prices in Sakai as tracked by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

According to the bar association and the prison, inmates are supplied with daily necessities but can also purchase items out of their own pocket from a designated contractor. While an incorporated foundation used to sell those items, the business was taken over by a Tokyo-based company around the end of 2011. It was around this time that the ratio of high-end commodities began to increase.

The company in question was designated by the Ministry of Justice and sells everyday items at almost all prisons across the country.

(Japanese original by Ryo Chatani, Osaka City News Department)

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