This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, Vol. 34, No. 2 (2010) (copyright Taylor & Francis), available online at:


Japan is well known as a society that has not only low crime rates but also for using incarceration sparingly, sending few convicted offenders to prison. Yet, certain crimes, such as drug offenses, receive little leniency in the Japanese criminal justice system. Johnson (1996b) found empirical support for both a chivalry and evil woman effect in the system’s treatment of female drug offenders. This paper reexamines and extends the core issues in Johnson’s (1996b) exploration of women’s imprisonment in Japan. It traces the patterns in female incarceration where data is available from the post-war period until 2004. It specifically examines the incidences of incarceration of women for stimulus drug offenses and identifies key correlates on the macro-level associated with changes in imprisonment practices.