'Mrs. F.' was 84 years old the first time she ever went to prison.
Her crime? Petty shoplifting. She stole rice, strawberries, and cold medicine.
She served her time. Got released. Then shoplifted again so that she'd go back to prison.
She's now 89 years old serving out another 2 ½ year sentence, not too far away from where I am right now, at a women's prison about 60 miles outside of Tokyo.
She's not the only one.
One in five female prisoners in Japan is senior, almost all of whom have been convicted of petty crimes like shoplifting.
This is no accident. Elderly women in Japan are economically vulnerable. Half live below the poverty line. Many live by themselves and have no one to turn to for help.
So there's a growing trend in Japan of elderly women deliberately committing petty crimes– hoping to get caught so that they'll be sent to prison.
In prison, of course, they're fed, clothed, housed, and even have their health care covered by the state.
It's a pitiful, last resort form of welfare that's likely going to become worse as Japan's already elderly population continues to age.
It's also a sad example of what happens when a nation's economy goes bust after a dangerous, explosive, unsustainable boom.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Japan was indomitable.
This country had pulled itself out of the ashes of the atomic bomb in World War II and set itself on a path to dazzling economic growth.
Within a few decades, Japan had become one of the wealthiest nations in the world. And by the 1970s, they began flexing that economic might.
If you're old enough you might remember the Japanese scare, especially in the early 1980s, as Japanese companies were buying up huge chunks of US real estate, businesses, etc.
Japan had all the money… and it seemed like they were going to conquer the world.