Tefillos for Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel


japan-yaakov-yosefBy Aron Nezri

The last remaining boy in Japan, Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel is hoping that he can finally celebrate his release from a Japanese prison which has been his home for almost four years.

As previously reported, there’s been much correspondence between Japan and Israel, where the Japanese have been continuously raising questions on the younger boy Yossi Banda, together with many inquiries on various prisoners who were transferred from Japan in the past. The Japanese also questioned Israel’s policies regarding early release and parole proceedings and other issues regarding prisoner transfers. After the Japanese sent Israel their last official correspondence, the Israeli Ministry Of Justice sent back their response which was acknowledged by the Japanese Ministry Of Justice in mid-January. At the end of January, the Japanese wrote back to Israel; it is based on this letter that we are pinning our hopes for a Pesach release. In the letter, the Japanese wrote that they do not have any further inquiries into all matters and they are satisfied that they can now expedite the transfer of Yakov Yosef. While they did voice their displeasure at the way Israel handled the release of the younger boy Yossi, they were satisfied with the proceedings concerning Yakov Yosef’s transfer which was already completed in September. They wrote that they will be working to close the file and will notify Israel when they can come and collect Yakov Yosef.
Such a letter is very rare to be written by the Japanese and it is only due to internal and external pressure that they acquiesced to pen these words.

Yakov Yosef will finish serving two thirds of his sentence on 2nd April. This is an important date because according to Israeli law a prisoner is eligible for parole after he has served 2/3rds of his sentence. Due to the misunderstanding / turmoil surrounding the early release of Banda, the Japanese wanted to ensure that Yakov Yosef will at least serve 2/3rds before releasing him to Israeli hands.
To be clear, the Japanese have no problem with Israel releasing Yakov Yosef or any prisoner on parole once he arrives in Israel; it is part of the international prisoner transfer treaty between Japan and many different countries and is standard procedure. The controversy that surrounded Banda was that the Japanese felt that his sentence was commuted in Israel to enable him to have already served 2/3rds of his sentence and be eligible for parole earlier than originally agreed. In Yakov Yosef’s case this is now no longer applicable, as he has almost completed his two thirds and, thus, they have no problem with him being released on parole once he arrives in Israel.

Yakov Yosef is aware of his potential release and his spirits have been lifted because of it. He has had a difficult winter with freezing temperatures and I wouldn’t like to say the rest! He has visitors who keep him aware of the situation. His father, who has visitation right, has been visiting him every month for the past few months and is actually there now. Yakov Yosef’s spirits are B”H fine, though his spirits have been shattered from time to time. Six months ago, he thought he was going home and it didn’t happen. Every day is a struggle as he deals with the potential possibility “Will I get the good news today?” .

Yakov Yosef will now not have to serve in prison in Eretz Yisroel. Even if he were to arrive in Eretz Yisroel tomorrow, the process of accepting and evaluating a prisoner takes around three weeks, by which time he would be eligible for parole and therefore will no longer enter a prison. When Yakov Yosef arrives in Eretz Yisroel, he will immediately be interviewed and go before a parole board, with a plan implemented in agreement with his family and he will be released on his parole date April 2nd.

Pesach now plays a big role and the Japanese are aware of the tense situation that lies upon all of us. An official letter was sent and we made them aware of Pesach and its significance. While every year we send Yakov Yosef matzos for Pesach, this year if it would cholila become necessary to buy matzos it would look like Erev Tisha B’Av rather than Erev Pesach. He has been there for four years in a row for Pesach already; four is enough, more than enough. If we were to have to buy him matzohs this year it would be very, very sad.

While Purim is now over and everyone is focusing on Pesach preparations, for Yakov Yosef and his family, every day is difficult. It’s a very intense, scary matzav for them, not knowing what will come and what the new day will bring. If any news occurs, we will be notified immediately and we will in turn notify the public.

Be’Nissan nigalu ubeNissan asidim lehigoel. May Hashem redeem all of us very soon.

{Aron Nezri-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Thank you Reb Aron for everything you’ve xdone and accomplished. Even “if” it seems that you didn’t succeed in Yaakov Yosef’s case, or the others, you really did because knowing that mainly you and also the other Askanim were working so tirelessly on their behalf made it bearable – if that could be said!
    Please NOW advise us all what and how we ought conduct ourselves when travelling! To say that one “NEVER” do a chessed is ridiculous. What ought the guidelines be?
    Hatzlacha in all you do and birchas Yaasher koach from all of us! Kol Tuv

  2. Today is April 2; 2/3 of his sentence is finished. If he cannot get to Israel in the next couple of days, can he at least be released and allowed to have Seder at the Chabad house in Japan?

    Please update. It will be a sad Seder for all of clall Yisrael if he is not out of prison by then.