Ikebukuro 'I was in prison and you visited me.'

Our history

A number of little sisters dedicate their lives more exclusively to people in prison. One of these communities is in Ikebukuro, Japan. Back in 1980, two of us wanted to find a way to live among people in prison. Some little sisters had been able to do exactly this, living as voluntary prisoners for many years in European prisons. We wrote to the Justice Ministry, as well as to five different women's prisons, hoping they would let us do the same in our prison system here in Japan but we were refused.

Then about five years ago, I happened to meet a sister from another congregation who was involved in prison ministry who told me it was possible to visit inside the jail. She was happy to introduce us to some of the people she knew "inside," since she herself was preparing to leave Japan. And so the door opened before us...

The story of Jin-san

Among those we first met was a young man from Okinawa named Jin. Our relationship with him grew, and through him we met other prisoners, including a number of women. Some of these have since been released and we have been able to keep in touch with some of them on the outside.

Jin-san had no one on the outside and he asked Little sister Clara Choko if she would be his legal contact. He has since been moved to Kumamoto prison in the south, where he must still serve another 20-30 years. Clara Choko writes to him regularly and goes to see him twice a year, stopping in Nagoya and Hiroshima on her way in order to visit other prisoners we know. We keep in touch through letters, visits, and prayer with quite a few who are now dispersed throughout the prison system.