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In Japan, women find rare parity in the prosecutors' office

51 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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Her husband cooks and helps take care of their 2-year-old daughter.

Hooray for him.

I don't know whether to be pleased at the progress made, or disappointed at the progress being made.

Japan ranks among the worst in gender equality for developed nations...

This is hardly news, just a season remind (like the falling birth rate and Tohoku disaster) that things are not rosy.

I'm happy that Japanese women are finally getting the the recognition they deserve

...despite [Japan] being No. 1 in equal access to education for women and men.

On the hand wonder why it's taking so long. They have all they need to demand better.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Tokyo District Prosecutors are Japan’s top-brass upholders of justice, notorious for going after corruption in the highest places:

Dentsu, the LDP and large companies multiple cases of falsification would seem to belie this notion.

I am sure female prosecutors can avoid seeking significant punishments against the culpable and powerful just as well as male prosecutors.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

In Japan what matters is 99% conviction rate not gender equality.

https://www.nippon.com/en/japan-topics/c05401/order-in-the-court-explaining-japan%E2%80%99s-99-9-conviction-rate.html

4 ( +14 / -10 )

@sakurasuki - the 99% conviction rate is only for cases that go to trial. More than 55-60% of cases do not go to trial, mostly where prosecutors are unsure of obtaining a guilty verdict. That would be potentially a career-stopping mark.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

“I have never viewed the women prosecutors as women,” Tokyo District Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto said.”

What does he view them as then?

8 ( +14 / -6 )

“Prosecutors can go after the truth."

Or, it is about what truth they can conceivably create.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

@wanderlust- the 99% conviction rate is only for cases that go to trial. More than 55-60% of cases do not go to trial, mostly where prosecutors are unsure of obtaining a guilty verdict. That would be potentially a career-stopping mark.

It's easily happen because is not that hard to obtain confession when you put someone in detention for straight 23 days with intense day and night interrogation, without lawyer present during those times.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/01/11/commentary/japan-commentary/japans-hostage-justice-system/

During 23 days being tired people just say or write just to get leniency even not necessarily they are criminal at all.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/01/11/commentary/japan-commentary/japans-hostage-justice-system/

In Japan they'll give people multiple charge so they can easily get multiple additional 23 days.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

MeiyouwentiToday  07:40 am JST

“I have never viewed the women prosecutors as women,” Tokyo District Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto said.”

That sounds like the same kind of well-meaning but ridiculous comment made by people who say they "don't see color". This can come across as meaning something very different to the person on the receiving end who might be hearing something more like, you don't think about the unfair hurdles other people have to deal with because they are "different" from you, you don't want to do anything about those hurdles, or maybe you want a big pat on the back for being so gosh darned open minded.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Meiyouwenti

“I have never viewed the women prosecutors as women,” Tokyo District Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto said.”

What does he view them as then?

Go to any office in Japan but not in big cities like Tokyo

copies and tea — tasks often relegated to women in a country that's been criticized for its lack of gender equality.

You'll see that tea lady serving guest or "important people"

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/06/japan-prefecture-to-stop-hiring-female-tea-squad-for-meetings

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

There are even female judges in Japan. Has been the case for decades.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

More than 55-60% of cases do not go to trial, mostly where prosecutors are unsure of obtaining a guilty verdict. That would be potentially a career-stopping mark.

But the 50% that do go before trial do have a 99% conviction rate, still nothing to celebrate about.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

“Prosecutors can go after the truth. That’s why I set my heart on becoming a prosecutor.”

I don’t know if she genuinely believe in her own words but the fact is that prosecutors in Japan aren’t seeing just necessary the truth but aiming at the conviction rate.

This country is still a developing nation about justice system and gender gap.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Happy to live separated and move forever just for insane wealth. Not for me.

Like to have familt meetings and enjoying playing with kids. There is no second chance after they have grown up.

Judges are seeking the truth, after prosecutors have brought what they think is evidence. Prosecutors have necessarily a biased vision.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

There are even female judges in Japan. Has been the case for decades.

that's not enough. And the article isn't about law, if you take the time to read it carefully.

It's about equality across the sexes.

In Japan, a few token female judges is not progress.

Painful to say, it never has been. Never will be.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Her husband cooks and helps take care of their 2-year-old daughter.

Great to read that Mrs. Ito's husband is supportive of her and her career. I sometimes do that for my wife, too. No worries. I like cooking and playing with my kids helps me to relax, along with other things.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Elvis is hereToday  08:47 am JST

that's not enough. And the article isn't about law, if you take the time to read it carefully. 

I read it Eleven times. Why are you mentioning "law" if the article and no one else did?

Did you read the article?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

more recently, bribery and bid-rigging related to the Tokyo Olympics.

Haven't seen too many politicians affected by this, that must be too much "truth" for the prosecutors to handle...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

At the prosecutors’ office in Tokyo, everyone makes their own copies and tea

Uhhh, what they want? A cookie?

welcome to the rest of civilization. Only about 50 years late, but that’s good to know.

Her husband cooks and helps take care of their 2-year-old daughter.

so, a normal DECENT husband in any other country………

don't get me wrong, I’m glad to hear “progress” is being made.

But it’s pathetic to think that, this is groundbreaking stuff in 2023.

that’s how messed up the mentality in japan is. Things people have been doing for decades is mind blowing in this day and age.

welcome to reality japan

maybe people will finally realize the traffic light for go is GREEN, and not blue?

nah, I won’t get my hopes up.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

“The fact is that we don’t prosecute many of the cases. We don’t bring to trial those cases that aren’t likely to produce guilty verdicts,” said Suzuki, who has some 20 years' experience in the field. “That’s why the conviction rate is 99%."

I see, Fair Enough.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

MeiyouwentiToday  07:40 am JST

“I have never viewed the women prosecutors as women,” Tokyo District Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto said.”

What does he view them as then?

He views them as prosecutors.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

But the 50% that do go before trial do have a 99% conviction rate, still nothing to celebrate about.

Well, if the prosecutors are only taking the cases with the strongest evidence to trial, then its not surprising that the conviction rate would be quite high.

Another thing worth mentioning is that Japan doesn't have a plea bargaining system (except in an extremely narrow range of cases), which means that most suspects who they don't have enough evidence against are simply released. This contrasts with the US and other countries with plea bargaining where prosecutors won't drop their weaker cases and instead use whatever leverage they have to obtain plea agreements, which will often involve jail time. Give that most cases in the US end with plea bargains rather than trials, and that many of those are cases where the prosecution's evidence is weaker (ie cases that would result in outright release in Japan), the likelihood of innocent people winding up in prison is I think much higher under the US system. This is borne out by prison population data, Japan has one of the lowest prison rates in the world.

This isn't to say the Japanese system is perfect, there are a lot of legitimate concerns with respect to interrogations without lawyers, the lengthy detention periods pre-indictment, etc, but I think the system overall works reasonably well here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan doesn't have a plea bargaining system

But they do have a system of allowing for victims to accept financial payment for criminal charges in return for charges being dropped.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

8% of Japanese prosecutors were women

Japanese prosecutors need to have no pity to destroy the life of innocent people. sound more difficult for women.... what else. btw are they married?....

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

despite being No. 1 in equal access to education for women and men

BS! There is nothing making it more No. 1 than most countries in Europe.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

But they do have a system of allowing for victims to accept financial payment for criminal charges in return for charges being dropped.

There are massive differences between that and a plea bargaining system.

1) Unlike with plea bargaining, these types of settlements only occur with relatively minor crimes, mostly involving property. If you murder someone, this is not going to apply.

2) These settlements aren't a formal part of the legal system like plea bargaining (which requires court approval) is. They are a side effect of police and prosecutors having a lot of discretion over which cases to proceed with. Unlike plea bargaining that discretion is only available early in the criminal process, once a suspect is indicted they no longer have it.

3) While its likely that some innocent people do get coerced into making payments to compensate victims of crimes they did not themselves commit, and this is obviously a problem, I would say it is less of a problem than a system that results in them being imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit.

4) I would also argue that for minor crimes involving property, a system in which suspects pay compensation is vastly better than one in which they end up in prison. The victims get compensated and the suspect pays the price, while at the same time avoiding the massive social cost of imprisonment. Japan's prison population is (measured per capita) among the lowest in the world. This has massive benefits for taxpayers who don't have to foot the cost of prisons, and probably also prevents the cost to society of lives of young people being destroyed due to minor offences they commit while young that plagues the US system, to name just a couple of benefits.

While the "Japan is a safe country" trope gets criticized a lot for glossing over the uglier parts of this society, there is still a lot of truth to it. Murder rates are low, social trust is high, people feel free to leave things like phones, bags, etc unattended because they don't fear them being stolen, etc. And this situation exists without the need for heavy handed policing or mass incarceration. Overall the system works pretty well in comparison I would say, again without wishing to downplay its known faults.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Not to necessarily disagree, but this is great for wealthy perpetrators.

I see your point, but the same applies to plea bargaining where the wealthy can buy the best legal representation and get way better deals than the poor who cannot.

"It sucks to be poor" is a pretty universal problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ah, gender equality again. I wonder if anybody is demanding "gender equality" for work as coal miner, sanitation engineer, or sewage system worker.

Is there a gender pay gap in those professions?

If not, why are you bringing them up? Seems like a very right-wing thing to do when you don't want to debate the issue.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It appears to me that they were saying we are better than the average Japanese women because we make our own coffee and the other male prosecutors accept them. Either they were boasting for example husband works in shopping we get even more money because he gets paid in Singapore money our kids play with airline attendants as if their playground is often in the air on flight etc. we’re they boasting about sexisms, separatism, and egotism. Ok I get it still Japanese but we are different women because we just don’t follow the laws we also write them

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo District Prosecutors are Japan’s top-brass upholders of justice, notorious for going after corruption in the highest places: the Lockheed scandal of the 1970s that unseated a prime minister

People who are interested to uncover the truth about Japan for themselves would do well to look into the Lockheed scandal. If it hadn't been uncovered by US senators, it would have been dismissed as a far-fetched conspiracy theory.

Hint: Japan still buys weapons from Lockheed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tokyo District Prosecutors are Japan’s top-brass upholders of justice, notorious for going after corruption in the highest places: the Lockheed scandal of the 1970s that unseated a prime minister, the Recruit company insider trading debacle of the 1980s, and, more recently, bribery and bid-rigging related to the Tokyo Olympics.

Because most of transaction and deal is being held in Tokyo not in rural area, where rural area only investigating pension fraud by family of deceased. Most of significant cases will happen in Tokyo area, since it is center population of all Japan.

https://japantoday.com/category/features/opinions/japan-is-paying-families-%C2%A51-million-to-move-to-countryside-%E2%80%93-but-it-won%E2%80%99t-make-tokyo-any-smaller

Too bad they just can't put Ghosn cases on their list of winning cases, they shouldn't agree to take that cases in the first place.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@LoveJapanToday 01:05 pm JST

Suzuki does not mention the unusual powers that Japanese prosecutors have, including the power to detain people in harsh conditions for months without even making a charge. Effectively punishing you for not confessing.

The American prosecutor gets the advantage of being able to threaten years of prison time to bluff the defendant into making a plea deal.

Also, you have to be careful in taking the word of the defendant whining they were shortchanged. The official time is about 23 days. For complex cases, sometimes it's possible to make two detention periods - for example, if you embezzled in 2016 and 2017, they can decide 2016 and 2017 are one, or they can do 23 days for your embezzelement 2016 and 23 days for your embezzlement in 2017. This was basically what happened to Ghosn, but he isn't about to tell you about the details when he can just whine he was imprisoned for "months" without "a charge".

MeiyouwentiToday  07:40 am JST

“I have never viewed the women prosecutors as women,” Tokyo District Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto said.”

This is one of those "You can't win" moments. Say you view them as women, and people call you sexist. Say you view them as prosecutors, and people complain about a lack of compassion for women's difficult circumstances, and some women may think the prosecutor is making a negative allusion to their appearance or body shape.

I think the best way is to just interpret these statements in the best possible light, and leave everyone happier for it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Strangerland

Is there a gender pay gap in those professions?

What does "gender pay gap" have to with anything here? The article is about a gender parity and not a "gender pay gap", which is a red herring anyway.

And the question why "gender parity" is never brought up in regard to dirty and dangerous jobs is relevant.

Seems like a very right-wing thing to do when you don't want to debate the issue.

By switching the topic, it seems YOU do not want to debate the issue. If that is a "very right-wing thing to do", wear the hat if it fits you...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“When you think about who has the task of pursuing the truth, among judges, defense lawyers and prosecutors, it’s the prosecutors,”

Prosecutors task is to prosecute and success means prosecution.

That means, prosecutors go to length and even illegally to arrive at that prosecution, including but not limited to, colluding with the police, leaking biased information to the media and worst of all controlling the judges.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Kazuaki

The American prosecutor gets the advantage of being able to threaten years of prison time to bluff the defendant into making a plea deal.

Japanese prosecutors torture you with unlimited detention, non-stop interrogation, and guilty prisoner treatment. You seriously believe that Japan is better?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rainyday:

Once upon a time, people could accept a fine in lieu of exile or death (either by the state or by the people when declared an outlaw). This was called a weregild, iirc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of the attorney on the right in the photo introducing the article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

LoveJapanToday 06:05 am JST

This attitude you have of defendants 'whining' is a very good example of how in Japan, defendants are presumed guilty. This is a human rights violation, as suspects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

It has nothing to do with presumption of innocence, and more an acknowledgment the defendant has no interest in being fair about these matters. They will exploit the commoner's ignorance of law and jurisprudence to the hilt. For example, Ghosn might whine about his 6 square meter residence, but neither he nor the newspaper nor any human rights groups batting for him will tell you that 6 square meters was the standard in Europe until recently.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@LoveJapanToday 03:20 pm JST

I think there was a lot more to the conditions (and any prisoner in Japan) is subjected to than just the size of their room Shimazaki San.

Perhaps, but I chose the prison size because it's a relatively clear cut issue - either the rooms are big enough or they aren't. In this case, 6 square meters is not the cutting edge - as I've said sometime ago Europe moved to 7, but the fact that it was the previous standard means at least it's not insulting or degrading.

What you should be thinking about is if:

a) You don't have a clear idea what the standards on any particular issue is

b) The defendant (whiner) isn't about to tell you what the standards are, other than rhetorically making you believe what he's suffering from is far below the standard

whether you should be quite as aggressive and certain on backing them up based on their whines.

Re the bulk of your text, you are conflating presumption of innocence with pre-trial measures of restraint. To facilitate criminal investigation and to prevent the destruction of evidence, escape or further harm, all societies allow suspects to be held prior to conviction.

You might argue that Japan allows for more onerous measures of restraint, on average, than the United States. But even if that's true, it's important to note that there are many hidden costs to "protecting the defendant". The plea bargain and the quiet closing of eyes at prosecutors making wild bluffs to convince the defendant into putting up a white flag when his chance of an acquittal are fair is one of them. That the maximum sentences are often much higher in the United States is another hidden cost, a stick given to the prosecutors so they can bluff the defendant while offering something more appropriate to their culpability (if the defendant, did, indeed, do it) if they surrender.

That everything is blocked by the lawyer also means the US police and prosecutor are often forced to make inferences from a poor quality track. There's a well known Youtube video called something like "Don't talk to the Police". The scenarios he present are partially because of how much American authorities must work off scraps - if Japanese police and prosecutors make inferences the way American police do, Enzai will be too common for the newspaper.

Finally, the increased contact between the defendant and the authorities also come around to help the defendant in Deferral of Prosecution or Deferred Sentences. 23 days gives the prosecutor more time to see exactly how repentant the defendant is, and the fact he did suffer a period of deprivation of liberty makes it easier to justify a deferred prosecution (thus keeping the defendant's record clean) or sentence (which at least let's him continue living). Effectively, it doubles as a kind of administrative offence diversion for the first time or minor offender.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“The fact is that we don’t prosecute many of the cases. We don’t bring to trial those cases that aren’t likely to produce guilty verdicts,” said Suzuki, who has some 20 years' experience in the field. “That’s why the conviction rate is 99%."

That also means they don't take chances, so perpetrators get away just because the prosecutors have only, say 50/50 chance of a conviction (or even 60/40)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The difference I see between US and Japanese prosecutors is that a US prosecutor develops much of their evidence before seeking an arrest warrant. Because of how the US legal system works the US prosecutor has to be ready to charge someone with a crime very soon after the arrest. They already have enough evidence to go to trial. A Japanese prosecutor arrests someone then holds them basically incommunicado while interrogating them twelve hours a day for a period of three weeks to develop the evidence they need to go to trial. Before the arrest they may only have a hunch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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