His mother begs Ottawa to repatriate him Detained in Japan's strictest prison

His mother begs Ottawa to repatriate him Detained in Japan’s strictest prison


Jonathan Isabelle has just celebrated his 24th birthday, alone in his cell at Fuchu prison, in the heart of Tokyo.

Without adequate medication for his attention deficit disorder, he is subjected to a quasi-military regime that he struggles to respect, according to his mother. His involuntary escapades, if only not to look ahead, earn him repeated punishments and periods of isolation which affect his mental state.

“There are people here who commit murders and who are better [traités] », Laments his adoptive mother, who wishes to preserve her anonymity, because she always watches over the children of the Directorate of Youth Protection (DPJ).

On February 16, 2019, Isabelle, a child of the DPJ who grew up in the Laurentians, made a careless gesture.



He was arrested with a suitcase full of drugs worth over $ 20 million.



Photo courtoisie

Il a été arrêté avec une valise remplie de drogue d’une valeur de plus de 20 M$.

Quelques semaines plus tôt, il se serait fait promettre 20 000 $ par des fréquentations louches s’il s’envolait avec une valise remplie de drogue d’une valeur de plus de 20 millions $ vers le pays du Soleil levant. Le jeune homme aurait vu cette opportunité comme un départ vers « une vie normale ».

Il a cependant été arrêté à l’aéroport par des douaniers japonais.

Condamné à huit ans  



Jonathan Isabelle during his trial in October 2019, in Japan.



Courtesy photo

Jonathan Isabelle during his trial in October 2019, in Japan.

Seven months later, the Japanese court bought his version that he believed he was carrying cannabis rather than methamphetamines. He was thus able to avoid a 20-year prison sentence, being ordered to pay a fine of $ 35,000 – which his mother paid – and to serve an eight-year sentence in Fuchu prison.

This facility, where the majority of foreign nationals are incarcerated, is home to Japan’s most violent criminals, such as members of the triads.



Two guards inside the Fuchu prison, where Isabelle is.





File photo, AFP

Two guards inside the Fuchu prison, where Isabelle is.

Calls for help

Jonathan Isabelle’s adoptive mother has been fighting for two years to have him repatriated to Canada “for humanitarian reasons”. She admits that he committed a crime, but regrets that he does not get adequate care to treat his various psychological problems.

“Jonathan is a child of the DPJ. He has ADHD. He was influenced and made a big mistake. But he’s not a fool, he’s a good little guy. It wouldn’t hurt a fly, ”she says.

Isabelle also suffers from attachment disorder, borderline personality disorder, and opposition disorder.



Since his incarceration in 2019, he has sent around 40 letters to his mother.



Courtesy photo

Since his incarceration in 2019, he has sent around 40 letters to his mother.

In prison, the Quebecer sent more than forty letters to his mother, in which he described the conditions to which he would be subjected.

“Among all the regulations, there are: no right to speak, no right to have your back bent while working seated, never look to the side, when you are seated, your feet must stay glued, your knees too, eight hours a day, ”he explains.

Once he was reportedly punished for turning his head while in line. At another point, it was for telling his name to a fellow inmate who asked him.

Motionless for seven days

In addition, he was reportedly recently under “investigation” for giving an encouraging “slap” on the back of a colleague at the factory where he works. He would then have been separated from the only people he had managed to bond with.



The 24-year-old Quebecer is being held in a cell that looks like this one.





File photo, AFP

The 24-year-old Quebecer is being held in a cell that looks like this one.

As punishment, he says he had already had to spend seven days sitting in the middle of his cell with both hands on his thighs.

“It was long in tabarn ***. Do you see what it is like here? Writes one who feels his “deteriorating mental health”.

Isabelle also recounts having suffered from frostbite on his feet, and suffering from serious retention problems and urinary tract infection, forcing him to urinate using a tube.

“Mom, I need to be transferred because it can be dangerous,” he wrote, fearing his bladder would explode and have to urinate this way his entire life.

“Urinary retention is an old man’s disease. It’s not normal, ”laments his mother, who is more worried than ever.

Since he spoke neither Japanese nor English at the start of his detention, his son would still have difficulty communicating his ailments.

They would even refuse to take him to the infirmary, forcing him to self-injure or make himself vomit in order to obtain treatment.

” Fair [pour] give you an example, tomorrow i have to go to the hospital because it’s been two weeks [que] I have three toes that have frostbite, worse they are turned blue mauve ”, we can read in one of his handwritten letters.

“This is where I realize how much I need to be in Canada to communicate,” he continues. But there, I felt trapped, locked in a cell … “

Bad medicine

The young man says he is aware that he has acted strangely and behaved impulsively from a young age.

Only the Strattera drug would have calmed him from the age of 18, but he would not have access to it.

“It’s not with medication for epilepsy (no, I don’t have epilepsy) that my problems will improve. I would like action to be taken, ”he asks his mother.

According to her writings, Isabelle even believes that the Japanese would not take mental illness “seriously”. For them, it would be a “shame”, he says.

An expert to the rescue

Despite everything, the letters of the fan of freestyle soccer are peppered with humor. He tells anecdotes, talks about his passions, the many books he reads, the films he watches, his future projects; all this in order to reassure his mother, believes the latter.

“He’s making a shell to get through. But there are passages where he says to me: “Mom, bring me back, I can’t take any more”, she emphasizes.

At his request, the Dr Louis Morissette looked at his son’s medical file. He concludes that if Jonathan is asked to be silent or not to move, “it will be particularly difficult for him and even more so if there is no specific treatment to treat attention deficit disorder”, a- he wrote in a report for Ottawa.

In addition, the renowned psychiatrist explains that the care that the national is currently receiving could cause very disabling adverse side effects until the end of his life.

Not before April 2022

Isabelle could be repatriated from the third of her sentence, on April 28 next. This is the point at which Canada could normally intervene.

“But I don’t want to wait until then. I am tired of reading my son’s distress. He was already not doing well. Imagine there! It’s hell, her mother blows. He still has time to be very ill. With his problems, he should be able to be repatriated. There are exceptions. “

A treaty signed between Canada and Japan would indeed require that a detainee can exceptionally be repatriated here to complete his sentence if his country is worried about his state of health.

“Not felt empathy”

“It’s very sad,” comments the Bloc Québécois MP for Rivière-du-Nord, Rhéal Éloi Fortin, who says he has taken a lot of steps.

“We have ministers [fédéraux] who don’t seem so concerned about the situation. I didn’t feel empathy. The answers we received were most laconic, ”he says.

” He [Jonathan] blundered. We agree. But here we have a Canadian citizen who lives in very scary reassuring conditions and who does not have the services to which prisoners here are entitled. I find that deplorable. It is necessary […] bring Jonathan back, ”concludes Mr. Fortin.


♦ The individuals who fooled Jonathan Isabelle and who used him as a mule were never worried.

Excerpts from letters from Jonathan Isabelle

“Since the doctor didn’t give me any medicine, I got caught looking sideways twice. Next time it’s a week of punishment. That means a week with no books, not nothing. You sit on the floor from morning to night for seven days. “


“Today is December 23. On the evening of the 20th, I was taken to hospital because I had a fever of 40.7 ° C. You have to believe that sleeping in a cell where it’s 5 ° C is not good for your health … They will end up killing me. “


” I’m tired. I stopped drinking to not feel like it, but it’s 40 ° C. It’s dangerous. If I die, know that I love you. “

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