Hokkaido prison aims to make prison “cuter”

Trends Trends & Culture - September 9th, 2013
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A desolate prison in Japan’s far north will welcome an adorable mascot in an attempt to brighten the jail’s image to the public.

Officials at Asahikawa Prison in Hokkaido unveiled its newest member, “Katakkuri-chan,” in an annual event Sunday.

Dressed in a prison warden uniform with a purple flower for hair, Katakkuri-chan stood out in the dark correction facility with its imposing grey walls.

A public relations official at Asahikawa said they hope the cuddly mascot will help soften the people’s perception of corrections facilities.

“Prisons have the image of being isolated places that have no contact with the rest of society,” the official said.

“We made the character to change the image into that of a facility open to society and supported by society.”

The official added they aim to promote awareness on the real purpose of prisons in rehabilitating inmates rather than ostracizing them.

“Of course, prisons are for people who have committed crimes and people tend to consider them unwelcome in their neighborhood,” said the official.

“But society has to play its part in supporting the rehabilitation of people who have served their time.”

The Asahikawa prison is the only Japanese prison with a life-size mascot. Although using charming characters for prisons and the police is not new to Japan.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: ecololo/Flickr