Prisons

Japanese Prison Adopts Mascot to Improve Image

Want to focus on the rehabilitative aspect of their reputation

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A Japanese prison housing a range of convicted criminals has unveiled a cuddly life-size mascot that bosses hope will help change the jail's forbidding image.

Officials say Asahikawa Prison in Japan's far north is too often thought of only as a dark place with imposing grey walls and not as a place of rehabilitation.

They hope "Katakkuri-chan", a nearly two-meter (6ft, 6ins) humanoid with a huge square face and an enormous purple flower for hair, will make people understand the true nature of the institution.