Yoshie Shiratori is perhaps one of the best-known criminals in Japan who escaped four times from incarceration and exposed the flaws of the Japanese prison system as well as the brutal way in which it treated prisoners in the past.
Shiratori became an icon due to his escapes, he had been nicknamed “the man that no prison could hold”. Learn more about his age, escapes, and facts.
Yoshie Shiratori Escaped Prison Four Times
Yoshie was, at first, a law-abiding citizen who worked at a tofu shop, then he changed his job and became a fisherman catching crabs for Russia. After a while and several failed businesses alter, he began gambling.
He couldn’t afford to pay his debts and started stealing as well. Then, the Japanese police caught him as he was accused of murder and robbery. For his first stint in prison and his subsequent first escape he was sent to Aomori prison.
There, he picked his handcuffs with a short wire that he foraged from a wooden bathing bucket. He was recaptured 3 days later and brought into the prison. This time he was transferred to Akita and sentenced to life in 1942.
At Akita, no one thought he would escape due to the smooth copper walls of the prison that were deemed impossible to climb. He somehow managed to climb the wall and reach the air vent on the ceiling.
Every night he unscrewed the vent until he displaced it and escape from it. He was exhausted and went to the home of a police officer that had shown him the only bit of kindness he had experienced in his time in prison.
The police officer eventually handed him to the authorities foiling his second escape.
His Third And Fourth Escapes
After getting captured for the second time, he was re-transferred to Abashiri Prison in a remote location in Hokkaido. The prison was one of the most feared ones in Japan and only the worst of the criminal bunch were sent here.
While Yoshie’s crimes were not that horrendous the police wanted him to stay put. He managed to escape again, this time only in his underwear.
He spit Miso soup at the doorframe of his jail cell every day until the fluids and salt eventually corroded the frame and it gave way. He then slid under the hole in the door through which the guards gave him food, by dislocating his shoulder in 1944.
After all 3 escapes, a special cell was made for him that prevented him from escaping from the ceiling. They also did not handcuff the prisoner due to their confidence in the newly built cell in 1947.
He escaped through the ground this time, unscrewing the bolts on the floor and digging with a bowl.
He Turned Himself In
After his fourth escape, he had been free for a year and was already an anti-hero among the Japanese community. He turned himself in after a police officer offered him a cigarette which was expensive at the time.
He was moved by the kindness of the officer and told him that he was an escaped convict. Yoshie was put on trial and the court gave him 20 years revoking all of his former sentences.
The escapee told the media and the authorities that he had only escaped prison because of the abuse he faced by guards.
When Did Yoshie Die?
Yoshie Shiratori was born on July 31, 1907, and died from a heart attack on February 24, 1979, when he was 71 years old. He was last imprisoned in Tokyo but was released on parole in 1961.