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Criminal justice system of Japan

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Three basic features of Japan's system of criminal justice characterize its
operations. First, the institutions—police, government prosecutors' offices, courts,
and correctional organs—maintain close and cooperative relations with each other,
consulting frequently on how best to accomplish the shared goals of limiting and
controlling crime. Second, citizens are encouraged to assist in maintaining public
order, and they participate extensively in crime prevention campaigns,
apprehension of suspects, and offender rehabilitation programs. Finally, officials
who administer criminal justice are allowed considerable discretion in dealing with
Contents [hide]



Criminal procedure










Inquest of prosecution



4.4.1 Trial by lay judge

Conviction rate


Confession in Japanese criminal investigation


See also






External links

Until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Japanese criminal justice system was
controlled mainly by daimyo. Public officials, not laws, guided and constrained

More important. certain provisions reflected traditional attitudes toward authority. and the judge. was substantially revised to incorporate rules guaranteeing the rights of the accused. and defense counsel could question witnesses only through the judge. Offenses against the emperor were spelled out for the first time. the imperial family. Except for omitting offenses relating to war. Cases were referred to trial only after a judge presided over a preliminary fact-finding investigation in which the suspect was not permitted counsel. Offenses were specified. In accordance with the Confucian ideal. Such laws as did exist were transmitted through local military officials in the form of local domain laws. Guilt was held to be personal. the defendant's legal presumption of innocence at trial was undermined. and severity depended upon one's status. officials were to serve as models of behavior. (see Criminal punishment in Edo-period Japan for details) After 1868 the justice system underwent rapid transformation. Kin and neighbors could share blame for an offender's guilt: whole families and villages could be flogged or put to death for one member's transgression. primary responsibility for questioning witnesses lay with the judge.people to conform to moral norms. Both codes were innovative in that they treated all citizens as equals.e. Innovative aspects of the codes notwithstanding. the 1947 Penal Code remained virtually identical to the 1907 version. and set punishments were established for particular crimes. The Penal Code was substantially revised in 1907 to reflect the growing influence of German law in Japan. and the French practice of classifying offenses into three types was eliminated. The preliminary investigative procedure was suppressed. and prohibited punishment by ex post facto law. although still able to question witnesses. were based on French models. The system became almost completely accusatorial. however. Justice was generally harsh. and no formal penal codes existed. After World War II. decided a case on evidence presented by both sides. Laws on indemnification of the wrongly accused and laws . The prosecutor represented the state and sat with the judge on a raised platform—his position above the defendant and the defense counsel suggesting their relative status. collective guilt and guilt by association were abolished. the new one permitted the judge to apply a wide range of subjective factors in sentencing. Specific enforcement varied from domain to domain. The prosecutor and defense counsel sat on equal levels. Under a semi-inquisitorial system. below the judge. the Penal Code of 1880 and the Code of Criminal Instruction of 1880. provided for centralized administration of criminal justice. Because in all trials available evidence had already convinced the court in a preliminary procedure. the people. where the old code had allowed very limited judicial discretion. The first publicly promulgated legal codes. The criminal procedure code. and the legal recourse open to his counsel was further weakened. and adultery. who lacked rights and had only obligations. were expected to obey. occupation authorities initiated reform of the constitution and laws in general. i. the Napoleonic code.

who is then required to apprise the accused of the charges and of the right to counsel. Family courts are run in closed sessions. probation. in cases pertaining to theft. the amount is small or already returned. and they can refer juvenile offenders and non-offenders alike to child guidance centers to be treated on an outpatient basis. Criminal procedure[edit] The nation's criminal justice officials follow specified legal procedures in dealing with offenders. and family courts. A warrant is also necessary for an arrest. and minor offenses were also passed in the postwar years to supplement criminal justice administration. the police can either drop the case or turn it over to a prosecutor. at the judgment of police. or the likelihood of a repetition not great. and operate extensive probationary guidance programs. Penal and probation officials administer programs for convicted offenders under the direction of public prosecutors (see Judicial System of Japan). Police are instructed by law to identify and counsel minors who appear likely to commit crimes. police have the authority to exercise some discretion in determining the next step. Citizens[edit] Arrest[edit] Police have to secure warrants to search for or seize evidence. The cases of young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty can. the prosecutor has to go before a . Police can also assign juveniles or those considered to be harming the welfare of juveniles to special family courts. prisons. although if the crime is very serious or if the perpetrator is likely to flee.concerning juveniles. the case is turned over to attorneys in the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office. Juveniles[edit] Police also exercise wide discretion in matters concerning juveniles. Within forty-eight hours after placing a suspect under detention. Within another twenty-four hours. the victim unwilling to press charges. district courts. in 1990 over 70 percent of criminal cases were not sent to the prosecutor. be sent to the public prosecutor for possible trial as adults before a judge under the general criminal law. it can be obtained immediately after arrest. the offense petty. the police have to present their case before a prosecutor. the act accidental. Reflecting the belief that appropriate remedies are sometimes best found outside the formal criminal justice mechanisms. After identifying a suspect. If. summary courts. Under the Ministry of Justice's administration. these officials work under Supreme Court rules and are career civil servants who can be removed from office only for incompetence or impropriety. Prosecutors presented the government's case before judges in the Supreme Court and the four types of lower courts: high courts. These courts were established in 1949 in the belief that the adjustment of a family's situation is sometimes required to protect children and prevent juvenile delinquency. who are the government's sole agents in prosecuting lawbreakers. try juvenile offenders under special laws. Once a suspect is arrested by national or prefectural police (See Prefectures of Japan).

decide guilt. depending on the severity of the case. In the 1980s. some suspects were reported to have been mistreated during this detention to exact a confession. an offender can successfully reenter society and be rehabilitated under probationary status without the stigma of a criminal conviction. defendants have the right to counsel. the circumstances and gravity of the crime. family courts. and pass sentence. Defendants are protected from self-incrimination. and district courts can be appealed to the high courts by both the prosecution and the defense. Because the investigation and disposition of a case can occur behind closed doors and the identity of an accused person who is not prosecuted is rarely made public. These detentions often occur at cells within police stations. Should a judgment of not guilty be rendered. but can be denied or suspended and ultimately dropped after a probationary period. These committees meet four times yearly and can order that a case be reinvestigated and prosecuted. character. independently call for evidence. In addition.judge and present a case to obtain a detention order. . and the accused's rehabilitative potential. pending an investigation and a decision whether or not to prosecute. The judge conducts the trial and is authorized to question witnesses. Prosecution[edit] Prosecution can be denied on the grounds of insufficient evidence or on the prosecutor's judgment. Trial by jury was authorized by the 1923 Jury Law but was suspended in 1943. public action does not have to be instituted. Victims or interested parties can also appeal a decision not to prosecute. and cross-examination. Inquest of prosecution[edit] Institutional safeguards check the prosecutors' discretionary powers not to prosecute. Lay committees are established in conjunction with branch courts to hold inquests on a prosecutor's decisions. and environment. Criminal appeal to the Supreme Court is limited to constitutional questions and a conflict of precedent between the Supreme Court and high courts. public trial. called daiyo kangoku. and unrestricted admission of hearsay evidence. A new lay judge law was enacted in 2004 and came into effect in May 2009. but it only applies to certain serious crimes. after weighing the offender's age. the accused is entitled to compensation by the state based on the number of days spent in detention. forced confession. Under Article 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Criminal cases from summary courts. The judge can also suspend any sentence or place a convicted party on probation. Trial[edit] Most offenses are tried first in district courts before one or three judges. Suspects can be held for ten days (extensions are granted in almost all cases when requested)[citation needed].

a judge oversees the proceedings and also determines the guilt and the sentence of the accused. the citizens relied on the professional judges to help ascertain a sentence for the verdict decided upon. “saiban-in”. The new system aims to invite participation of the wider community and also provide a speedier. The selected lay judges must be voters. The first trial by lay judge lasted four days. 2009 under a new law passed in 2004. A retrial can be granted if the convicted person or their legal representative show reasonable doubt about the finalized verdict. but felt confident in their interpretation of the trial arguments presented by prosecution and defence . Therefore. After a sentence is finalized. Capital punishment consists of death by hanging and is usually imposed for multiple homicides. more democratic justice system. and possess a secondary level education. Six citizens became lay judges and joined three professional judges to determine the verdict and sentence the defendant. according to Eisuke Sato. At least one judge must concur with the majority vote from the lay judges in regards to a guilty verdict. such as clear evidence that past testimony or expert opinions in the trial were false. began August 3.The criminal code sets minimum and maximum sentences for offenses to allow for the varying circumstances of each crime and criminal. The citizen lay judges as well as professional judges are allowed to put forth questions to defendants. while some comparable criminal cases may last years under the old system. the justice minister.[1] Trial by lay judge[edit] Main article: Lay judges in Japan The first trial by citizen judge. Japan belongs to an inquisitory system of criminal process. During the inaugural case. Penalties range from fines and short-term incarceration to compulsory labor and the death penalty. at least 20 years old. Heavier penalties are meted out to repeat offenders. however a majority not guilty verdict by the lay judges will stand. The historic trial of 72-year-old Katsuyoshi Fujii who stabbed his 66year-old neighbor to death had substantial media attention. Professional lawyers and politicians may not serve as lay judges in the new system. witnesses and victims during the trial. the only recourse for a convict to gain an acquittal is through a retrial.