Japan’s Radio Station for Prisoners Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

Chances are that unless (a) you speak Japanese; and (b) you’re incarcerated in a Japanese prison, you’ve never heard of Chofu-FM. Here’s the scoop from The Japan Times.

A local radio station in Chofu, Tokyo, marked the 10th broadcast anniversary of a monthly program for inmates in Tokyo’s Fuchu Prison. It will continue the unique program as a volunteer activity with the hope that inmates will think more positively about their lives when they are released from prison.

The radio station, Chofu FM, started the one-hour live program, titled “Keyaki no Sanpomichi” (Promenade of Zelkova), in April 2006. The hope was that it would help inmates integrate into society.

Risa Hasegawa, a 41-year-old radio personality, and station support staff visit the prison to broadcast the program. In the show, inmates are referred to by their initials and are allowed to discuss their aspirations and thoughts regarding their lives after they are released. They can also request their favorite songs be played.

In the May 15 episode, with the topic “Unforgettable Taste,” Mr. N reminisced about daigaku-imo — candied sweet potatoes — made by his wife. The dish was delicious and brought a smile to his face as it reminded him of his mother’s recipe.

In another message, Mr. S, set to be released soon, expressed his desire to eat ice cream with his 3-year-old daughter. Speaking on the program, Hasegawa said: “Congratulations on your graduation [from prison]. I imagine your daughter is very adorable at her age. I hope you will have a great summer.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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